For those who support the LGBTQ+ community, Pride Month is a great opportunity to think more deeply about LGBTQ+ equality and diversity and inclusion in the workplace. We like to take a moment to point out how to make the workplace more LGBTQ+ friendly so that everyone truly feels comfortable and welcome in your organization.
Evidence shows that promoting diversity in a professional context is one of the best ways to both promote equality and foster innovative thinking: A 2018 Harvard Business Review study found that companies with above-average diversity also experienced 19% higher revenue from innovation.
Connecting people from different backgrounds, gender identities, sexual orientations, and gender expressions always leads to a win-win outcome.
If you want to know how to support the LGBTQ+ community in the workplace, this article offers five helpful tips:
1) Inform yourself and others about the LGBTQ+ community.
People tend to categorize things. This often leads to bias, stereotypes, and prejudice against other people and ways of life that we do not know well. While bias is normal, most of us can overcome it through personal efforts at education and open and honest dialogue. It is important to keep in mind that no one needs to constantly explain and justify their experiences and existence. The primary responsibility for educating and overcoming prejudice does not lie with the LGBTQ+ community.
Especially in the workplace, it is absolutely necessary to get prejudices out of the way. Different parties can learn from each other and share experiences and resources to create a common ground where everyone feels heard and seen. If we don’t talk about the existence of different identities and orientations, we can’t overcome prejudice.
Take the time to find out more about the experiences of the LGBTQ+ community by reading articles, watching videos, and following influencers on social media. You can then share this information with your team and help foster a culture of learning and openness in your workplace.
2) Don’t expect to get everything right right away
Learning means making mistakes! We all have certain issues that we can still learn about – this is not a personal failure, but an opportunity for growth!
During this learning process, you may encounter obstacles or unintentionally say things that upset others. It’s okay to make mistakes and accept that you are still in the middle of the learning process. This is also why it is especially important to take responsibility here and make an active effort to change hurtful behaviors in the future.
Communication is the foundation of an LGBTQ+ friendly work atmosphere. Together, you need to find effective ways to communicate the company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion and to foster respectful communication with each other.
This can be achieved by embedding a commitment to equality for the LGBTQ+ community into all company communications. This includes both presentations and speeches, to designs and even face-to-face conversations. When using examples and images, you should also always ensure that they are inclusive and do not perpetuate stereotypes.
4) Stand up against discrimination
To create a welcoming climate for LGBTQ+ individuals in your professional life, you must use your position and platform to advocate for greater equality and inclusion. It doesn’t matter if you are self-employed or work remotely for a company: It’s essential to stand up to and be vocal about discriminatory policies, practices and comments in the workplace.
If you perceive a discriminatory act, slur, or long-term, structural problem that goes to the livelihood and well-being of LGBTQ+ people in the workplace, make sure you and others speak out firmly against such acts.
Also, encourage management to be vocal in advocating for networks that promote inclusion and diversity! This makes team members from the LGBTQ+ community feel that their entire company supports them and that they can be themselves at work.
5) Treat team members from the LGBTQ+ community with dignity and respect.
Someone who comes out to you as LGBTQ+ trusts you not to judge them or treat them differently. They count on you to respond respectfully.
Sayings like “Really? I never would have thought that” or “I thought you were married” or “No way! Are you kidding?” are not supportive or respectful and can make LGBTQ+ people feel uncomfortable. The best case scenario is to listen, stay present and reinforce the person, and be aware that it may have taken a lot of courage to speak the truth.
Last, it is important to keep in mind that each person in the LGBTQ+ community is unique and might prefer or dislike different things. If you are unsure, it is best to ask openly and respectfully to avoid uncomfortable situations.
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