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4 Commitments Leaders Can Make During Pride Month

June 9, 2023 Alison Sancinito

In June, leaders, organizations and communities come together to recognize Pride Month, which celebrates the LGBTQ+ community’s freedom to be who they are and their progress in the fight for equality. The month commemorates the Stonewall Uprising that took place in New York City in June 1969. Patrons and supporters of the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village staged an uprising to protest the police harassment and discrimination that LGBTQ+ people were commonly subjected to. This event sparked a movement that continues to this day.

Today’s leaders must take new actions and make new commitments to advocate for true inclusion. As anti-LQBTQ+ legislation and conflict at major companies like Target engulf news outlets, leaders must stay focused and fierce in their advocacy for inclusive workplaces and recognize that they are in a powerful position to impact change in all areas of the organization. According to new SHRM research, “LGBTQ+ workers who say their companies’ senior leaders care about making meaningful DE&I progress are over five times more likely to agree they have equal access to resources and opportunities at work compared with those who don’t feel their companies’ leaders care about DE&I progress.”

Alex Alonso, SHRM-SCP, chief knowledge officer for SHRM, acknowledges that some progress has been made, but the commitment must remain. “Recognizing the importance of inclusion and support for LGBTQ+ workers, this new research shows organizations are making headway. However, we have plenty of room for improvement. Just hiring LGBTQIA+ individuals to maintain diversity isn’t sustainable without a culture of inclusion that truly welcomes all individuals for who they are.”

4 Commitments Leaders Can Make During Pride Month

As we recognize and celebrate Pride Month, we call on every leader to build meaningful and authentic avenues to allyship and to take action toward change. What can you do right now to be an ally and an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community?

1. Commit to creating an inclusive environment.

A recent Glassdoor survey points to foundational hurdles that prevent LGBTQ+ employees from experiencing truly inclusive workspaces. According to the survey, over half (55%) of LGBTQ+ employees report they have experienced or witnessed anti-LGBTQ+ comments by coworkers. Also, according to 2023 SHRM research, although 60% of LGBTQ+ workers have disclosed their identity at work, among those who have not disclosed their identity, the most common reason is the fear that people would talk behind their back (50%). And while only 7% of those who have not disclosed their identity believe they would lose their job if they did, one in five (20%) believe they would not be promoted. These insights should motivate all leaders to consider how they show up with their teams and how they can inspire others to lead inclusively.

What can you commit to doing to disrupt these statistics and to create a more inclusive workplace culture for LQBTQ+ employees? Start here:

  • Build inclusive meetings by developing greater self-awareness and gaining a deeper understanding of those you lead.
  • Practice micro-affirmations to ensure those from the LGBTQ+ community know they are valued and seen for who they are and the ways they contribute to the organization.
  • Hold yourself accountable by collecting data to understand the root causes of inequity within your organization. Develop measurable small- and long-term goals for change and create a path forward.
  • Elevate voices from the LGBTQ+ community within your organization and connect with members of the community outside the organization to partner in change.

Commit to understanding and partnering with the LGBTQ+ community.

Invest time in understanding the history of Pride Month and the LGBTQ+ community, starting with learning more about language. Be intentional about the language you use because words matter. Partnering with GLAAD, NPR compiled a glossary of terms relating to gender identity, with the goal of helping people communicate accurately and respectfully with one another. In this glossary, they remind us that language changes over time, and individuals may choose language or terms that work for them. What’s most important, they write, is “recognizing and respecting people as individuals.”

Learn more about the LQBTQ+ community and pursue meaningful partnerships throughout the year. The Human Rights Campaign site organizes resources, articles and research to deepen your understanding and advocacy, including a section on inclusion in the workplace. Celebrate the LGBTQ+ community by partnering with nonprofits, investing time and money in their causes and standing alongside them in their efforts to create change. Check out StartOut | Leading Nonprofit Empowering LGBTQ+ Entrepreneurs and Out & Equal, a premier global nonprofit organization working exclusively on LGBTQ+ workplace equality.

3. Commit to representation at all levels.

According to SHRM, a lower percentage of LGBTQ+ employees (71%) perceive their company as having equitable representation at all levels compared with workers who don’t identify as LGBTQ+ (78%). And LGBTQ+ workers who say their company has equitable representation at all levels are more than three times as likely to agree they have equal access to resources and opportunities at work. The impact of representation is clear. How can you be intentional about building representation in your organization? Start by confronting the systemic biases that continue to negatively impact communities and the professional advancement of underrepresented groups. Look for programs and trainings that support the advancement of LGBTQ+ employees. Develop goals for advancement, collect data and hold yourself accountable for making change happen.

4. Communicate your commitment to inclusion all year long.

Demonstrate your commitment publicly, in your everyday interactions and in your ongoing actions toward inclusion. Consider ways to weave in what you learn, how you are working toward allyship and how you are striving to build inclusivity in your teams. Gather feedback and share how you plan to make adjustments based on that feedback. Make your voice as an LGBTQ+ ally loud all year long to ensure energy that sparks in June becomes an ongoing commitment to change.

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