As colourful Pride flags unfurl across the globe during this vibrant and empowering June, it’s a timely reminder of the importance of acknowledging, supporting, and celebrating the LGBTQIA+ community within the digital transformation workplace. Pride month offers us an opportunity to reflect on the significance of awareness, vigilance, support, and acceptance as crucial pillars in creating and maintaining an inclusive and open workplace environment. Embracing these values means that you not only honour the diversity of your colleagues and workmates but foster a culture of encouraging everyone to bring their authentic selves to work and lead to a more engaged, productive, supporting, and harmonious professional community.
So, how can you support your LGBTQIA+ colleagues?
Communication should be your number one priority.
Perhaps as a result of homeworking and people being more remote from each other this is even more of a struggle these days.
Have you asked your staff what can we do in this organisation to make our working environment more inclusive?
Can we become more mindful of the language we use and whether it is more inclusive or not?
You could move towards your internal documents such as employee contracts using language like you rather than he and she.
2. Audit Policies
Have you audited your policies and procedures to check that you are recognising everyone? Have you broadened your maternity and paternity leave policies to acknowledge all families, not just stereotypical family units? The same goes for your bereavement policies. Who have you recognised as family, and do you know how many days off somebody can have?
You may also decide to have a pronoun policy, and you can also address these issues in your anti-bullying and harassment policies. Examples can quite often focus on sexual, disability or racial harassment but not sexual orientation harassment. It is worth taking note of this and updating your policies.
3. Allyship & Leadership
Are you the person in the workplace who is complicit if something is going on? Or are you the person who stands up and says; “I’m not going to tolerate this comment being made in the workplace” and stands up for your colleagues?
You may not feel able to say something in the wider office, and it’s not just about flagging up harassment, it can be as simple as when people are being gaslit or talked over in meetings.
You may notice this and stand up for them by agreeing with what they’re saying and drawing attention to the person who is perhaps not being valued.
Do you collect the right data in your organisation?
Do you know who you are recruiting and who makes it through the recruitment process?
Who stays in the organisation and who leaves? Who has raised a grievance and how was it handled?
It can be quite a sensitive issue to be gathering data on so it may be worth engaging with a third party who is very practiced at working in this area to get better disclosure from people.
Ensure you have regular training and, should complaints come in, make sure you have an effective mechanism to deal with them.
Do you have a culture where it’s made clear that sexual orientation and gender related harassment is unacceptable, and is it built into your induction programs?
Ensure disciplinary action is taken when necessary and that the actions are being dealt with by the company leadership team.
If taken to a tribunal, courts will ask to see how effective your training has been, so ensure it is regularly updated and your staff are equipped to deal with these issues and that they behave appropriately.
When did you last do training for your staff? Was it any good? (A recent case highlighted how training 2 years ago might be stale already).
Can you document how it is changing things in your workplace?
Creating an internal network within your business can be a powerful way to showcase your commitment to understanding and promoting visibility. By establishing such a network and actively acknowledging events like Pride Month, you can make a significant impact. Engage your team and gather their perspectives on supporting campaigns, collaboratively devising a strategy to lend your support.
As an employer and HR team, its essential to prioritise inclusivity throughout your hiring process. Demonstrating a clear focus on diversity and inclusivity in your recruitment efforts, and showcasing the values your organisation celebrates, can immediately convey your business’s beliefs, and contribute to fostering a sense of belonging within a workplace.
Pride Month serves as a reminder of the ongoing journey towards inclusivity and acceptance in the workplace. By prioritising open communication, auditing policies for inclusivity, demonstrating allyship and leadership, collecting relevant data, and providing regular up-to-date training, we can create a truly inclusive work environment where LGBTQIA+ individuals feel seen, heard, and valued. Together, let’s continue to celebrate and encourage diversity and work toward building a professional community that thrives on acceptance, respect, and equality for all.