Creating a diverse and inclusive workplace is a core value for many organizations. One way companies can create an inclusive workplace is by providing support and a safe environment for individuals in the LGBT community. Discussing and demonstrating LGBT allyship in the workplace creates a safe environment for all team members.
What is an ally?
An ally is someone who supports and encourages the people around them and stands up for others. AnLGBT allyis often someone who is straight and/or cisgender and tries to make the world a better place for people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. Supporting your LGBT co-workers helps create an inclusive environment where people feel seen and understood.
LGBT allyship in the workplace
There are many ways you can support your co-workers and be an ally in the workplace.
Educate yourself about the issues that are important to the LGBT community.
Every person has implicit bias and understanding your own bias will help you figure out how you can change your perspective. Learn more by taking Harvard’sImplicit Association Test(IAT), which measures implicit attitudes and stereotypes.
Be conscious of how you communicate with and about co-workers.
Usegender-neutral greetingswhen addressing your co-workers instead of making assumptions about people’s gender identities and/or expressions. Next time you send an email or start a meeting, begin with “Hello everyone” or “Welcome team,” instead of “Hi ladies and gentlemen.” It is important to always show empathy when communicating with your co-workers.
Stand up for your co-workers.
Speak upfor your LGBT co-workers if you hear people saying inappropriate jokes or making anti-LGBT comments. If you see discrimination happening at work, try explaining why what people said is potentially harmful to yourself or others. Give them a chance to see the other side and educate themselves. If you do not feel safe addressing discrimination face-to-face, ask someone in a senior position to step in and assist.
Many organizations have internal committees that are dedicated to promoting LGBT inclusion in the workplace. These committees can be a great resource to learn more about how to be an LGBT ally and make the working environment a safe place for all employees. If your company does not have an employee resource group, consider petitioning to start one.
How to be a supportive and inclusive employer
There are many ways employers can foster an inclusive environment for their employees. Consider these three areas for improvement when it comes to LBGT inclusion in the workplace — policy, culture, and community.
It starts with inclusive policies.
At the core of every business are policies that help define what a business does and their employees’ rights. Use gender-neutral and inclusive language when discussingpolicies, such as gender identity and nondiscrimination, parental leave, domestic partner benefits, transgender-inclusive benefits, and organizational LGBT competency.
The ways in which you use language can be very impactful for members of the LGBT community. From the moment a candidate applies for a position with your company, you have an opportunity to be inclusive in the way you discuss gender. Provide diversity and inclusiontrainingto all employees and leaders who join your organization, but don’t stop there. Practice what you preach and use the tools from these trainings every day.
Create an LGBT Employee Resource Group.
If your company does not already have one, create anemployee resource groupdedicated to LGBT support. Provide employees a safe space to voice their concerns and celebrate their differences. Discussions that start within this committee can lead to impactful and necessary changes in the workplace.
Support for the LGBT community is important year-round. Though Pride Month is a great time to call attention to the need for an inclusive work culture for all employees, companies need to consider how they can continue to support the LGBT community every day. It is important to celebrate diversity and prioritize inclusion to help make the work environment a safe space for everyone.