In the last years rainbows, and other Pride-themed logos, have become icons that more and more companies incorporate into their products, merchandising, social media, especially during Pride month (June).
The increase in visibility of the LGBTQ2IA+community is a great thing. However, it is important to support the colourful symbolism with policies and practices that foster inclusion and ensure the safety and wellbeing of the LGBTQ2IA+community.
As many members of the queer community wisely remind us, Pride is a protest.
Pride day commemorates the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York City that helped catalyze the LGBTQ2IA+rights movement. It also serves as an important reminder that the battle for acceptance and inclusion is far from over.
Rainbow logos aren’t enough. To create an inclusive and equitable workplace for all, we need to move beyond symbolisms, and commit to a dedicated and continued effort.
GEM suggests four ways of going “over the rainbow”
Address language & clothing – gender expression matters
- Pronouns: use the correct pronouns (e.g. She/Her, He/Him, They/Them, Xe/Xem) when referring to people; it is a way to respect and honor their identity. For example, include your pronouns in your email signature & LinkedIn profile and normalize asking someone’s pronouns when you first meet them.
- Gender inclusive language: avoid using unnecessarily gendered terms. These pronouns (i) use the male conjugation as default (ii) reinforce a very rigid gender binary. For example, instead of saying “hey guys” use “y’all”, “friends”, “folks”, or even “hi everyone”.
- Dress code: avoid gender binary guidelines; these tend to be based on cultural gender stereotypes that are harmful to those that don’t identify within that binary structure. For example, instead of ‘suits for men’ try using ‘business casual’.
Encourage sharing – empathy matters
- ERGs: create and promote employee resource groups (ERGs). They are an opportunity to build relationships with LGBTQ2IA+ staff and allies, find and develop mentorships, and continuously cultivate a culture of inclusion
- Sharing platforms: create spaces where LGBTQ2IA+ employees can share their stories with their peers. This helps build stronger bonds and internalize why anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies are so important (understanding the challenges that people from the community face every-day can help other people’s awareness of their own behavior and willingness to speak up when they see something inappropriate).
Create safe and inclusive workplaces – safety & wellbeing matter
- Educate: conduct trainings for employees to develop an understanding of what factors contribute to discrimination and harassment (incl. inappropriate behavior, language and microaggressions). Communicate the company’s policy (e.g. zero-tolerance to harassment & discrimination) to all employees.
- Protect: develop mechanisms through which employees can report discrimination and harassment grievances. Ensure anonymity, protection, and support for the aggravated as well as clear disciplinary sanctions for the perpetrator. Communicate these policies to all employees.
- Include: Ensure that your workplace benefits equitably address LGBTQ+ employees’ needs. For example, expand spousal benefits to domestic partners and update parental policies to support new parents of all genders and circumstances.
Broaden your approach – intersectionality & non-binarism matter
- Flag: Instead of the standard rainbow flag, consider Philadelphia’s More Color, More Pride’ flag inclusive of queer people of color. At GEM we constantly highlight the importance of addressing intersectionality, and embracing a flag that visibly represents people of color from the LGBTQ2IA+community is part of that commitment/effort.
- Acronym: Use the entire LGBTQ2IA+ acronym and ensure that your efforts address all the characters. Each character represents an identity. Company’s efforts tend to be disproportionately focused on certain sections of the community (e.g. gay males or lesbian women). It is important to embrace and be inclusive of all identities, including genders outside the binary – remember that LGBTQ2IA+ includes Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Two-Spirit, Intersex, Asexual, and other.
Pride comes in many colors and in order to create inclusive workplaces that celebrate and elevate people from the LGBTQ2IA+ community, it is fundamental to listen and understand their specific needs/challenges and to create policies and practices that address them correctly.
For more information on how to build a more inclusive culture for LGBTQ2IA+ community please reach out to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org