Pride Month and Beyond: Honoring Diversity and Cultivating a Sense of Belonging in the Workplace
Stephanie Koprince (she/her) June 23, 2023 Culture, HR Trends, Talent Management
Best practices on promoting diversity, fostering inclusion, and enhancing LGBTQ+ visibility within the workplace.
As we celebrate Pride month, this is a great time to celebrate progress, but also reflect on ways in which we can promote and cultivate a work culture that drives inclusion and honors LGBTQ+ employees. Below we outline some of the ways that organizations can be supportive and inclusive year-round for their LGBTQ+ employees.
Define Diversity and Inclusion
Organizations should start by determining what diversity and inclusion means to them. Separate those two words out, define them for your organization, and share that information with all your employees. This is important to develop now, even if you don’t currently have any LGBTQ+ employees.
Develop Inclusive Policies
Organizations should review any internal policies, practices, and benefits to identify any barriers to inclusion. They can then work on finding ways to make these barriers more equitable for employees. For example, are you offering maternal and paternal leave, or are you offering parental leave? Consider expanding your bereavement policies to include chosen family, pets, or partners. Look at your medical benefits. Are you supporting employees who are transitioning, and will you support that medication long term? Does the organization provide insurance for domestic partners? Instead of using the terms his or hers, replace those words with the term “their.” Make sure that your workplace culture aligns with the policies in place.
Review HR Systems
Does your HR system allow employees to use their chosen name, versus their legal name, and where is that visible to other employees within the organization? This can be very sensitive information. Also consider changing your employment applications and other forms to allow employees to self-identify by providing other options for genders, such as non-binary or transgender. Review recruiting and compensation practices and find ways to make those more equitable as well. Out & Equal is a global nonprofit organization working exclusively on LGBTQ+ workplace equality. Their toolkits, guides, and reports can help organizations create a more inclusive workplace. The U.S. Department of Labor’s DOL Policies on LGBTQ+ Employees and Applicants: Rights and Responsibilities Desk Aid is also a great resource for employee rights, offering valuable information on the responsibilities of managers and key terminology for gender identity.
Take Stock of Your Workspace
Is it physically accessible? Can someone in a wheelchair reach the coffee maker and maneuver around the entire office? Do you offer gender neutral restrooms? Providing gender neutral restrooms can provide increased privacy and safety and help ensure that employees of all gender identities feel comfortable and respected. Employers should offer accommodations wherever you can.
Implement Diversity and Inclusion Training
Increase employee knowledge by offering DEI training, creating a DEI committee, or by creating an Employee Resource Group (ERG) for your organization’s LGBTQ+ community. Having an ERG can foster a sense of community and belonging within the organization and creates a welcoming space for allies. Having a visible LGBTQ+ ERG can also play an important role in attracting talent to the organization, as they may feel more comfortable applying.
Celebrate LGBTQ+ Events
Companies can partner with local LGBTQ+ organizations and participate in local events, such as a Pride Month parade or sponsoring local events.
Organizations should also consider creating opportunities where employees can volunteer on a service project at a local LGBTQ+ center.
Learn and Listen to your LGBTQ+ Employees
Teach your employees about the importance of terminology and avoiding assumptions. Address any heteronormativity within your organization. For example, instead of asking, “Do you have a husband/wife?,” reframe the question to, “Do you have a spouse or a partner?”
Empower employees to speak up and advocate, whether that is through bystander intervention training or modeling that they can speak up from the top down. Create safe spaces for LGBTQ+ employees to share their thoughts and concerns anonymously throughout time.
Promote and Foster Allyship
Don’t be afraid to name what is happening in the world and talk openly about the issues and challenges facing LGBTQ+ employees. Ask employees how you can show up for them. We’re moving through a scary time for those in the LGBTQ+ community. Knowing your employer has your back, is aware of what is going on, and is there to support you and accommodate you when needed makes all the difference. Encourage employees to share their pronouns in their email signatures, their LinkedIn profiles, etc.
At the end of the day, LGBTQ+ employees are looking for a sense of belonging, equal access to opportunities, and a work environment that celebrates and honors all of our differences. Creating a psychologically safe and supportive work environment allows your employees to bring their full selves to work. Here at Keystone Partners we are lucky to have a culture of inclusivity and respect for all employees. And our CEO Tim Baldwin says it best:
“At Keystone Partners, we firmly believe that diversity and inclusion are not just lofty ideals but fundamental values that underpin our success and shape our culture. We are committed to fostering an environment where everyone feels respected, valued, and empowered to bring their whole selves to work.”
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