What Can Organisations do to truly Support The LGBTQ+ Community?
Pride Month is an opportunity to celebrate the rights and freedoms that the LGBTQIA+ community have today, whilst also acknowledging and protesting against discrimination that unfortunately still exists. The event came into being following the Stonewall Riots which occurred in New York in June 1969. The series of protests against police raiding the Stonewall Inn became a significant milestone in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights. Closer to home, 2022 marks 50 years since the first UK Gay Pride Rally which took place in London in July 1972.
Alongside numerous pride events which occur on an international scale, many corporations make a point of temporarily changing their branding to show support for the LGBTQ+ community for the duration of Pride Month. Whilst this can be seen as an act of solidarity, it can sometimes be a case of rainbow capitalism; the act of selling pride-related items with none (or very little) of the proceeds going to any LGBTQ+ charities and/or providing lip-service without continuing to show solidarity outside of Pride Month. Instead, businesses need to ensure that they’re continuing to support the community for the rest of the year, making sure that their own employees are being treated fairly and that all potential customers feel welcome. Making donations to LGBTQ+ charity funds outside of Pride Month is one such way to show solidarity with the community. One organisation in particular that upholds their promise to support the community is London North Eastern Railway, which should act as a source of inspiration for other businesses. Employees of the rail franchise recently shared what Pride means to them; you can hear their thoughts here.
Despite the fact that the Equality Act (2010) is in place to protect those who fall into protected characteristics, not all working environments are presented as safe spaces for employees. According to a report published by Stonewall in 2020 regarding the LGBTQ+ community at work, only 52% of bisexual respondants and 50% of transgender respondants believe their workplace is inclusive of them, compared to a much higher figure of 83% of gay and lesbian respondants. The statistics take a more negative turn in regarding individuals coming out to colleagues, with only 67% of gay and lesbian respondants, 35% of trans respondants and 27% of bisexual respondants feeling as though they would be able to disclose their sexuality or gender identity to a colleague.
There are numerous ways to ensure a more equal, healthy and happy work environment, including:
- Producing Diversity Monitoring Forms which can be used to create a snapshot of staff diversity within your team.
- Organising for staff to receive Equality, Diversity & Inclusion training sessions. These can either be general sessions about EDI or can cover specific groups including the LGBTQ+ community.
- Including pronouns in email signatures and introductions. This is a simple gesture that can go a long way towards making individuals feel safe to be themselves in terms of gender identity.
- Introducing gender-neutral toilets can assist with the prevention or minimisation of dysphoria for trans and gender diverse individuals.
- Ensuring that your working environment is inclusive and safe for everyone. This could include offering signposts to mental health services or ensuring a safe, watertight reporting system incase of discrimination. We have written about ways in which organisations can cultivate a trans-inclusive workplace, which you can access here.
Employees are far more likely to retain a good sense of mental wellbeing and be more productive knowing they don’t have to fear potential discrimination in a location where they spend much of their time. Valuing equality and inclusion also serves to create a more positive image for potential customers. If you’re interested in learning about Diversity & Inclusion to support your own team, our Implementing Equality, Diversity and Inclusion online course which also takes a deep dive into the LGBTQ+ community is available to purchase here.