It’s Pride Month! Companies are infusing logos with rainbow colors, there are parades EVERYWHERE and we are trying to go out of our way to celebrate LGBTQ employees. The world has come a long way but LGBTQ employees still suffer from discrimination in many states. Homophobia is still alive and well in the workplace. Many of us have learned to seize our superpowers but our work challenges are still unique. So, what can you do beyond curating those festive rainbow logos to support the LGBTQ community? (Don’t get me wrong, I love rainbow omnipresence but there’s more we can do).
1. Evaluate Your Company’s LGBTQ+ Candidate Experience: The candidate experience is anything that happens in the recruiting process, up to hiring a candidate. It includes e-mails, phone screens, case studies, in-person interviews, dinners, coffees and even foosball games. The LGBTQ community can be very much on guard during this exploratory process and we are constantly looking for cultural artifacts that reveal an employer’s stance on inclusion. There are a few things that companies can do to show they are inclusive in this stage. First, if someone mentions their partner, husband or wife, try to relate to them like you would with a straight person. Don’t get awkward! Ask them the same questions you would ask a straight person. Second, mention your company’s stance on inclusion throughout screening process. Highlight your LGBTQ resource group or that LGBTQ leader who climbed the ladder. Third, if you have an LGBTQ inclusive culture, make sure that it’s all outlined on your website and in other public places. You would be surprised how many companies are inclusive but you would never know it unless you talked to their employees.
2. Treat your LGBTQ employees as equals. Do you celebrate weddings and other personal milestones in your organization? If so, are you treating your LGBTQ employees equally? I have worked in organizations that have announced straight weddings but not LGBTQ weddings. If you leave us out one time, then you kill the trust. If you are straight, think about how you would feel if your organization constantly omitted you. Take that times 100. Well, that’s how it makes us feel since it has happened our entire lives. Little actions go a long way.
3. Understand the emotional distress that we face. There was recently a study published that found that legal denial of LGBTQ services increases stress levels across the LGBTQ community, even within individuals that aren’t directly impacted. So, even if you don’t do business in a discriminatory state, mental distress levels within your local LGBTQ community may still be heightened following the passing of discriminatory laws. Stay up to date on these policies and continually reassert your support for your employees and their families. Once is not enough.
4. Connect and learn from your employees. Now that you have LGBTQ employees, connect with them organically. Include our lives and stories in your organizational fabric. In many ways, we are just like you so treat us accordingly.
These are just a few tips to get you started. It’s not a one size fit all approach but when in doubt, just be human! Happy Pride and enjoy the sea of rainbows!