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How are you supporting Pride this year?
No doubt you will have seen multiple rainbow flags over the last week or so on social media and will continue to throughout June as Pride is celebrated across the globe, including the UK and US, to highlight and push to promote LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) rights.
Celebrations throughout June are often large marches full of colour and exuberance. This year won’t be quite the same due to the pandemic but that won’t change the key message – it’s a celebration of LGBTQ people. The month of June shines a spotlight on the issues faced by the LGBTQ community which unfortunately during the remainder of the year are often ignored, or at best misunderstood.
Rather than simply putting a rainbow on my profile page for the month, I decided to do some digging and really educate myself on the history to Pride and how I can be a part of the movement, not just during June, but on a daily basis.
- Pride marks the anniversary of the Stonewall riots which took place in the Stonewall Inn, a popular gay bar in New York on 28th June 1969 when police attempted to raid the bar. This sparked a gay rights uprising that continues to grow year on year.
- The Stonewall Inn is now a designated US national monument
- It took until 2019 for the New York City Police to issue an apology for the actions of its force in 1969
- It also lead to the founding of Stonewall, a British charity, in 1989 to lobby for equal rights for LGBTQ people
- Stonewall is now the largest LGBTQ rights organisation in Europe and works tirelessly 365 days of the year to push for equality.
- Homosexuality was only legalised in 1967
- Gay marriage was only legalised in 2013 – that’s only 8 years ago!
One of the first things that needs to happen is for Pride not just to be for the LGBTQ community. Everyone should be educated about it and the circumstances that led to it. Should those that are supporting it be called ‘allies’ or should it just be about all of us supporting our fellow human beings to ensure we drive a society that celebrates our differences versus fighting them?
I obviously have my rose tinted glasses on here and it’s easy for me to say as someone who hasn’t had to face discrimination or hate simply for being ‘me’– there are many prejudices that need to be addressed and dealt with but each of us can start small: learn about what Pride means, get to know your colleagues who may be celebrating this month and join in…one thing for sure if that it will be great fun, especially once the face to face celebrations return in the future.
The workplace is a key area where the LGBTQ community unfortunately still face prejudice and discrimination. As an HR professional, I pride myself on driving an inclusive culture and environment within all the organisations I work with. This is where many will shout about the business case for doing this, and yes that may be the trigger for some to focus on this. Really though, it’s about being human. It’s about respect; it’s about embracing everyone for who they are; and valuing what they bring to the table.
So what can businesses do to support their LGBTQ employees or workers? Here are some of the basics:
- Business leaders need to be the driving force behind creating an inclusive workplace. It all stems from here. Hold up a mirror and challenges yourself about any unconscious bias you may hold and address it. Educate yourself and get to know your people – as individuals.
- Review your policies – they set the tone across any organisation. Make sure they’re all inclusive, from your pension provision, to your parental leave and adoption policies.
- Train your managers. Make sure they have the knowledge and skills to treat people fairly, respectfully and lawfully AND so they can provide the support their individual team members may need along the way.
- Consider setting up an LGBTQ network. In an ideal world we wouldn’t need these but your LGBTQ community may benefit from this right now for support.
- Encourage LGBTQ allies across the organisation so they can champion support and help drive inclusion across all teams
- Think about how you can use gender neutral language in your communications so no one feels uncomfortable.
- Provide unisex toilets so all your employees feel comfortable and secure in the workplace environment.
- Educate, educate! Use your internal comms effectively to raise awareness of issues and celebrate differences across your business.
We all have an individual responsibility to push for equality and inclusion in the workplace and in our society. It shouldn’t just be down to the LGBTQ community. So how will you do this – not just during the month of June, but on a daily basis?
Author: Katy McMinn, co-founder and director of HRi