As June 2021 comes to a close, corporate logos will lose their rainbow colors and revert back to their previous colors and branding. We will likely see a decrease in discussions around LGBTQ+ issues and community, and we will most definitely see a dramatic drop-off in last-minute requests for LGBTQ+-focused speakers for corporate events. However, if your organization is truly committed to inclusivity and supporting everything that Pride stands for beyond an optical approach, your work here isn’t ending just because June is over– it should just be hitting its stride.
Here are some ways to continue the momentum around this work, and ways to make sure that a celebration of Pride isn’t limited to 30 days out of each year:
- Review your employee handbook and make sure that your company policies have inclusive language wherever possible. For example, change “husbands and wives” to “partners”, and change “maternity leave” to “parental leave”.
- Along the same lines, make sure that your workplace discussions and practices avoid gender binary defaults. For example, instead of saying ‘welcome ladies and gentlemen’, instead say ‘welcome everyone’ or ‘welcome folx’. Allow and encourage everyone to include their gender pronouns in places like email signatures, video conferencing software, Slack, and other profiles. Normalize this practice for all, and make it a habit to routinely share pronouns along with names when meeting new people and making introductions. Learn more about pronouns.
- Review and assess your organizational benefits. Do you offer benefits to employees in domestic partnerships, or civil unions? Does your health insurance cover gender reassignment surgery? Do you provide mental health benefits? Do you have any practices or policies in place to support an employee who may be transitioning?
- Redefine how your organization defines a family unit. Many individuals today have families that would be considered ‘non-traditional’ by older employment standards. If you have an employee who needs to take time off related to a family need, will that employee be able to do so if they are not… a birth parent? Married? Supporting an individual who is not related by blood? Etc.
- Provide channels for feedback, anonymous and otherwise. We may think we’re doing all the right things, but no one is perfect. Make it easy to not only share thoughts and feedback, but also provide an easy-to-access way to report discrimination or hate. And then actually act on that information.
- Keep abreast of external laws and policy changes that may not necessarily impact you at an organizational level, but which may have significant implications for your LGBTQ+ employees. For example, does your organization have offices and do business in parts of the country or world that would not recognize your LGBTQ+ employees’ marriages? If possible, consider using your company platform to push back against restrictive and harmful policies and laws. Learn more about corporate boycotts.
- Donate to, support, and learn from organizations like the Human Rights Campaign, which recently released their Corporate Equality Index for 2021– a national benchmarking tool on corporate policies, practices, and benefits pertinent to LGBTQ+ employees.
- If you have an LGBTQ+ (or any) employee resource group, ensure that it’s well funded and well supported through budgets and executive sponsorship.
- Continue to host LGBTQ+ speakers, events, and celebrations throughout the year.
- Ensure that you have representation of LGBTQ+ employees at all levels of your organization– and if you don’t, work to change that (promote, hire, and support a workplace environment where people feel comfortable sharing their authentic selves).
What other ways have you seen organizations successfully continue and maintain this work? Share with us!