The celebration of Pride this year comes at a critical time for the LGBTQI+ community in many parts of the world. More than ever, voices of support are needed to advance people’s ambition to live and work as their true selves, free from discrimination and persecution. These efforts should be an integral part of a meaningful and effective workforce strategy to promote equity, diversity, inclusion, and belonging. By empowering people to reach their true potential, companies unleash tremendous potential to improve employee satisfaction and business performance.
In a year when the community really needs support from all corners of society, employers can play a big part in the effort by nurturing a corporate culture centred around EDI&B advancing fair and equitable employment practices, and serving as agents of change to bring about greater understanding and tolerance across all of society.
Embracing these important measures is not only the right thing to do but also serves an important purpose: improving talent engagement. Randstad’s latest Workmonitor research found that more than half of workers surveyed around the world would quit their job if they lacked a sense of belonging. Similarly, over 40% wouldn’t take a job if their values aren’t aligned with an organisation, and 32% would quit a toxic workplace.
five actions to take now
To create a positive and nurturing environment for LGBTQIA+ talent as well as people of all backgrounds, companies can focus on five impactful actions that affect meaningful change. These will accelerate goals for an inclusive and diverse workplace while promoting your organisational values. As your business becomes more equitable and inclusive, it will also better attract and retain the critical skills needed to drive innovation and productivity. These actions include:
Instil a culture of empathy.
Operating with empathy is the ultimate way to forge a more equitable and inclusive culture, and this has to be embedded into the overall company culture. All employees can participate, either in Pride-related events, on social media or simply to demonstrate support with small gestures. Through dialogue and sharing of experiences, ideas, and insights, colleagues can foster understanding and empathy for not only members of the LGBTQIA+ but everyone throughout the organisation. Let’s put this one first.
Establish your values.
Reviewing communications and policies across the business provides an opportunity to be more inclusive and affirming. Whether this is the language used in internal employee communications or market-facing content such as job ads, documents should be crafted and reviewed through an equitable and inclusive lens. This critical step will help cascade a consistent and reinforced message in support of the company culture.
Empower employee-driven groups.
Business resource groups (BRGs) serve an important function for employees. They are networks of colleagues united in their identity, interests, professional pursuits, or other considerations. Ones that support LGBTQIA+ members help raise awareness, champion EDI&B strategies and provide various resources to participants including mentorship and workplace support. In addition to building cohesion and providing a channel for sharing, BRGs can also deliver valuable insights and feedback to management, resulting in informed, targeted business decisions.
Maintain meaningful activities over time.
Any activities related to Pride should be meaningful, sustained, and reinforced. Rather than employing a strategy that goes beyond ticking a box, consider permanent changes that enrich and inspire the workforce. Such measures don’t need significant investments or a long time to enact. Examples include adding pronouns to email signatures or promoting a Pride business resource group.
Build visibility through role models.
Create opportunities for individuals across all levels of the organisation to tell their stories and build their profile as members of the LGBTQI+ community. Doing so normalises the representation of a wider spectrum of people and gives them an intentional voice to promote equity throughout a business. Be as inclusive as possible, but also respect employees’ preference for privacy. Even in the most accepting workplaces, people may still choose to not share personal information. Simply letting everyone know they have a safe space at work sends a powerful message.
Pride is celebrated around the world at different times, but participants are united in their desire to build a more inclusive and equitable society and world of work. During this critical time, members of the community and their advocates are needed to voice the rights of individuals to live and work freely in an environment of acceptance and understanding. Employers also have an opportunity to advance these goals through sensible and meaningful actions sustained over time, irrespective of where they operate. Together, everyone can contribute to meaningful changes to advance the rights of the LGBTQI+ community.