Celebrating Pride Month in the Workplace

Celebrating Pride Month in the Workplace

June is Pride month, and as such, it offers a reminder to us to support the LGBTQ+ community, celebrate LGBTQ+ culture, and drive equality and inclusion. Diversity, equality and inclusion is vital every day of the year, but we celebrate and focus on the LGBTQ+ community in June as a reminder of the Stonewall Uprising in 1969. The uprising marks just one key point in the long path that activists continue to tread to ensure equal rights and ensure that members of the LGBTQ+ community feel safe, welcomed and free to be themselves.

Employers play a huge part in ensuring that their organization and work environment is LGBTQ+ inclusive, and those that don’t run the risk of missing out on a huge pool of talent and losing valued team members to organizations where the culture feels more accepting.

Recent years have seen a great deal of progress towards more acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community. In the last 23 years, laws have changed to make the age of consent equal to that of heterosexual partners, allow a trans-gender person to change the gender they were assigned at birth, and allow LGBTQ+ couples to enter a civil partnership or marriage with their partner. Currently, consultation responses are under review on the legislative ban of ‘conversion therapy’, and on the 13th June 2023 the UK Home Office announced that more people who were unjustly criminalized for repealed same-sex offences will be able to apply to have these convictions wiped from their record.

But even with these steps, the sad fact is that there is still a long way to go before we reach a position of true equality. Stonewall reports that:

  • One in five LGBTQ+ people have been the target of negative comments at work.
  • Over a third of LGBTQ+ people feel they need to hide who they are at work.
  • One in five feel that being LGBTQ+ limits their job opportunities.

Source: Stonewall

But as important as feeling accepted is on a day-to-day basis, it becomes even more critical when problems arise. If an employee is not comfortable to be open about identifying as LGBTQ+ then it creates conditions in which toxic practices like bullying and harassment can thrive. In a 2019 YUC survey of LGBT employees, 68% reported being sexually harassed at work, and 2/3 did not report the incident, many because they feared being ‘outed’ at work.

And as important as it is, it is not just feeling accepted within the workplace, that the LGBTQ+ community face. Organizations like the Mental Health Foundation reported that in a UK survey, 89% of LGBTQ+ people reported feeling anxious within the last two weeks in comparison to the average of 73% for the total survey population.

Pride Month 2023

These inequalities also creep into healthcare with Dr Michael Brady, National Advisor for LGBT Health, NHS England and NHS Improvement was quoted in the LGBT foundation report, Hidden Figures as saying “LGBT individuals still face considerable barriers to leading happy, healthy and fulfilling lives. Stigma, discrimination, harassment and bullying on the streets, in education, in health and in the workplace are still realities for many people;”

How to Support & Celebrate Pride Month in the Workplace

So, what are some of the things that organizations can do to help support their LGBTQ+ employees during PRIDE month, our DE&I team came up with some ideas:

  • PRIDE video call backgrounds to show support,
  • Remind employees how to add their pronouns to email signatures,
  • Share information and experiences over internal comms channels,
  • Remind people how they can get involved with DE&I within the workplace,
  • Start conversations that show people they are safe and accepted for who they are,
  • Support training and education events,
  • Commit to inclusion all year round and operate a zero-tolerance approach to bullying or abusive behavior.

PRIDE and the rainbow symbol are a fantastic and joyful opportunity to celebrate the diversity of the community we live in but supporting the LGBTQ+ cause is more than just putting up a rainbow once a year. Why not use PRIDE month as an opportunity to review changes that could improve acceptance and support within your organization all year round?

Happy Pride Month everyone! Acceptance without exception.

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