Pride month is a great celebration, but it’s even more important to empower your LGBTQIA+ employees year-round. Let’s look at some ways that inclusive organizations can make everyone feel comfortable being themselves so they can do their best work. Here are some empowering ideas.
“D and I” has become shorthand for diversity and inclusion in corporate culture in the past few years. This progress is great, but it’s only progress if the organization “walks the walk” in addition to “talking the talk.” From recruiting to hiring to day-to-day management practices, diversity and inclusion should simply be how your company does business.
This will mean looking closely at who is at the table when making decisions. It wasn’t that long ago that only men were responsible for policy decision-making in most organizations. Making sure that you have diverse leadership and everyone who would like to be out and proud feels free to do so at work is key.
Diversity of leadership leads to a diversity of ideas and will help your company compete more effectively when serving a diverse client base.
One method for empowering LGBTQIA+ employees is to establish and support employee affinity groups. These are safe places where employees who identify with a specific group can gather and communicate directly with one another, knowing that they have management’s support in doing so. This can go a long way toward walking the walk and demonstrating that LGBTQIA+ employees don’t have to stay in the closet to be successful team members who fit a preconceived mold.
Part of walking the walk means allowing employees to express themselves with their clothing, hair, jewelry, and nails. Thankfully, gone are the days when women were required to wear skirts, stockings, and heels in the office every day, but organizations need to look at proper clothing, hair, jewelry, and nails as stemming from the job description that an individual has, not that person’s gender at birth. Make sure that your Human Resources policies support employees in this way.
Something as simple as a brightly colored men’s polo shirt or women’s polo shirt can be a form of self-expression. So can hairstyles, jewelry, and nails that don’t fit a traditional binary approach to fashion. By the way, we label our clothes as “men’s” or “women’s” purely to help you with sizing. Use those labels only if you wish. Lands’ End is all about supporting and celebrating our LGBTQIA+ customers.
Some companies have adopted easy ways for allies to make themselves visible by using the rainbow flag or rainbow coloring effectively. Simple things like ally pins, computer stickers, or magnets can create a more inclusive corporate culture. When creating positive change in corporate culture, make it as accessible as possible for the average employee, and make sure that management leads the way on this front.
Education is also key. Consider inviting speakers from your company or the greater community to speak at your firm about the history of LGBTQIA+ rights and how allies can help to promote an inclusive culture. Brown bag lunches can spark interesting conversations and help to raise people’s awareness about the importance of supporting their LGBTQIA+ colleagues.
Encourage your employees to celebrate pride month. Also, show your support for your LGBTQIA+ employees year-round by simply creating a safe place for them to be themselves. It is important not to just wave the rainbow flag in June.
Pride clothing and accessories have featured the rainbow flag with the addition of a pink stripe since its debut at the San Francisco Gay Pride Parade in 1978. Newer redesigns of the flag have become increasingly inclusive, representing the growing community of Queer people and especially the BIPOC who have fought so hard for their basic rights.
Encourage your employees to wear the fun, bright clothing they choose to express pride month. If your office leans more toward business casual, maybe take it down a notch and encourage everyone to wear their favorite women’s T-shirt or men’s T-shirt on a given day and take a team picture of the beautiful rainbow of T-shirt colors. If you are petite, plus, tall, or big and tall, no worries! Lands’ End fits everybody.
If you have a local pride parade, see if groups from the office would like to carpool to enjoy the day together. Have them take selfies and post them on a bulletin board when they are back in the office. Have rainbow flags available for employees to take from work to the parade if they like to show your support of the event. The more these types of ideas can be driven by employees who are out and proud, the better. It will be seen as more genuine and inclusive by the team.
Empower your LGBTQIA+ employees all year long!