June means warm weather, long days … and Pride!
This month marks the annual celebration of the LGBTQ community, a time for those who identify with the community to celebrate all that makes them unique, and for others to step up and wear their allyship just as proudly. Even though acceptance of LGBTQ individuals has flourished in recent years, community members across both the nation and the world continue to face discrimination and hardships, making this Pride month just as important as ever. No matter your own identity, chances are there is someone in your life who identifies as LGBTQ—so we all have skin in the game this Pride Month!
While joining in Pride festivities in your local community is a perfect (and fun!) way to show your pride, supporting the community doesn’t have to just be a weekend endeavor—there are plenty of ways to take a stand as an LGBTQ person or an ally within your workplace. Here are just a few:
Know what your company stands for:
Even before you walk through the door (including virtually!) on day one of your job, you should be comfortable with where your employer stands on LGBTQ issues. Search the company website when you apply for DE&I statements and do your research on political donations and charitable contributions. Just as LGBTQ people and allies often withhold their money from organizations that support causes that could hurt the community, directing your talent only to employers that are supportive is another way to make a statement.
Employee resource groups are increasingly becoming a must-have for leading employers. ERGs often are organized around a particular identity or issue, such as LGBTQ, Hispanic, working parents. Join as many ERGs as you can to become a visible ally for your fellow workers. ERGs are a great place to learn about your own and other communities, and even just to make new friends who share commonalities with you. Your employer doesn’t have an ERG? This Pride Month, it’s time to start one!
Be as open as you’re comfortable with:
Coming out as LGBTQ is a very personal and often challenging process for each individual. If you’re along that journey, don’t pressure yourself to be any more “out” at work than you’d like to be—but if you’re an ally, the more “out” you are can make a big difference for your fellow employees who may be struggling. Even something small like a rainbow sticker on a locker or a casual reference to attending a Pride event can give your co-workers the peace of mind that you can offer a safe space.
A great (and simple) way to be an ally to the LGBTQ community is to always remember that someone may be listening—and that you want your words to be welcoming, not exclusionary. When meeting a new employee, don’t immediately ask about a “husband” or “wife,” for instance—opt for the gender-neutral “partner” to make them feel more comfortable. Similarly, don’t make assumptions about pronouns based on a person’s presentation; you can even get in the habit of sharing your own, such as in email signatures, to project inclusion. These small steps may seem insignificant but can make a world of difference to someone who’s looking for a welcoming place to work.
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