Celebrating Pride Month 2022 LGBTQ+ Inclusivity at Work
Being an ally is more than just a declaration; it’s advocacy. Pride Month is a great time to consider if we are doing enough to promote acceptance for our employees, partners, and clients who are part of the LGBTQ+ community. This article will focus on the employee experience in the workplace.
Employees from all walks of life who feel supported by their employers are more likely to be happy and productive at work; creating a culture of well-being requires attention to the needs of not only the majority, but LGBTQ+ and other minority groups who have historically been overlooked, excluded, or worse. While Pride month is a celebration of personal freedom, there are still strides to be made to ensure that freedom becomes a way of life for everyone, especially in the workplace.
Are you doing enough to be genuinely non-discriminatory and create a sense of belonging for your LGBTQ+ employees? What are the steps to creating a safe space? Let’s take an in-depth look at these questions and shed light on why creating inclusive workplace matters.
An inclusive workplace is where people can be their authentic selves.
Bringing your authentic self to work means feeling free and safe to be who you are. It’s about not having to hide fragments of yourself to make you more likable – or to avoid harassment, discrimination, or overt aggression at work.
At the tip of the iceberg is removing hostility for our LGBTQ+ colleagues. What’s underneath is creating a genuine inclusion and belonging culture and empowering all employees to be themselves, regardless of their gender identities.
You might think that creating an inclusive workplace and a robust diversity strategy is enough. However, interaction with colleagues and peers mainly drives the daily experience of inclusion and belonging.
The Role of Employers in Supporting LGBTQ+ Employees at Work
Be Empathetic Listeners
Empathetic listening is making an emotional connection with the other person and finding similarities between their experience and your own so that you can give a more heartfelt response. It’s providing support and encouragement rather than advice or criticism.
Empathy has no room for bias when hearing the person out – leaving a pure intent to understand and accept. That’s why allyship is rooted in polite curiosity and humility. It requires listening with empathy and a corporate culture that deliberately promotes genuine acceptance and leaves room for the other person’s emotions.
Provide Inclusive Benefits
Ensuring all employees have access to tangible perks and benefits of an inclusive workplace is one of an employer’s roles that no one else can do. Identifying and addressing disparities in health and financial well-being and career-related benefits is essential.
Not all families look alike. Where families are presumed to have two parents of opposite genders and mothers shoulder most childcare responsibilities, there are single-parent households, LGBTQ+ parents, and blended families. Understanding that heterosexual family structures are not an adequate foundation for an inclusive benefits package prevents overlooking shortfalls in reaching and caring for employees.
Accessible Learning and Training on Allyship
The journey toward diversity, equity, and inclusion is one of learning. Getting caught up in performative allyship that lacks insight or accountability is easy. And that’s what makes learning and training so important.
Leaders are at the helm of making room for empathy, educating on inclusive language, understanding microaggressions, and creating mentoring and peer-learning opportunities.
And the journey does not stop at a single station; allyship learning is an ongoing program with multiple touchpoints throughout the year.
Leaders Are the Driving Force for DE&I Goals
The success of a DE&I initiative is its level of accountability, which starts from the top. Shaping organizational culture requires commitment and oversight to ensure actual actions follow those commitments. Managers and leaders can be held accountable through increased transparency and aligning DE&I goals with compensation and benefits packages.
Encouraging a Culture of Inclusion at Work
Promote Genuine Curiosity and Relationships
It is only natural to be curious about different experiences from our own. However, it does not give anyone the pass to ask intrusive personal questions – especially at work. So, it pays to recognize genuine curiosity from inappropriate interrogation.
Asking questions, in and of itself, is not inherently wrong. Genuine curiosity is essential to building friendships and relationships among peers.
Every person’s perception is valid. Remaining curious is a way to remember not to assume for someone else. Perception expands when we see things from another’s view.
Doing research is another way to go about it. To educate yourself, read books, watch videos, or listen to podcasts created by LGBTQ+ educators.
Deliberate Education on Inclusive Language
Inclusive language entails positive word choices that respect and acknowledge the broad diversity of people in the workplace. It’s crucial to encourage people at work to be mindful of their words to say what they mean and learn how to navigate gendered language.
Learning the vocabulary of inclusion can go a long way toward helping LGBTQ+ colleagues feel understood and accepted. Be mindful of pronouns and gender identity and avoid heteronormativity. The words we choose can normalize diversity and open new avenues of understanding for non-LGBTQ+ employees.
Managers will be facing situations where correction is needed. Perhaps someone has misgendered a coworker or said something offensive. Letting mistakes go unacknowledged can add to the hurt someone feels. Addressing the situation requires letting go of your interpretation of what another person may think or feel and listening with empathy to understand what someone is truly perceiving.
Promote Inclusive Activities and “Work Hangouts”
Twenty percent of LGBTQ+ workers reported avoiding special events at work, including lunches, happy hour, and holiday parties. Maybe you recall excuses about why they couldn’t go? That should trigger you to consider blind spots; was the event inclusive for same-sex partners as well as hetero couples? Ultimately, ensure that the activities you invite people to participate in will be fun and comfortable for everyone.
Doing the Right Thing Every Day
An inclusive workplace is an environment that removes barriers and empowers your employees to be their best and authentic selves. The workplace should be where LGBTQ+ individuals and other minority groups can claim a safe space to grow professionally while being heard, seen, and understood for who they are: valued community members and colleagues, not separate from the whole.
Equiliem (www.equiliem.com) believes in empowering success. It’s our job to cultivate relationships that connect people and employers in a way that is inclusive, intelligent, and allows both to thrive.
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