Pride month is often a big month for businesses being LGBTQ+ allies and generally showing their support. This is a great month to feel the inclusion from businesses. However, it is so crucial that this amazing support is carried on throughout the year. This blog is going to give you tips you can implement to make your business more LGBTQ+ inclusive and friendly daily!
You aren’t going to get everything right straight away, and that is okay! You do not have to know it all to be an amazing ally. The crucial idea here is when there is a problem mentioned surrounding the inclusion presented in your business you always treat it seriously and effectively.
- Just because you don’t understand the problem bought up by your staff doesn’t mean it’s not important.
- You may not know the full extent of the problem bought to you.
- Always listen actively.
As long as you react appropriately and change to suit people’s needs you are being inclusive as a company. Reacting appropriately is so important in allowing your employees to feel comfortable perhaps coming to you again in the future. Keep that open conversation going!
Use a gender-positive mentality
Moving to a gender-positive mentality is such a crucial part of inclusivity. A gender-positive mentality simply means that you are actively aware of gender and how to be respectful.
Ways that you can contribute to a gender-positive mentality are:
- Encourage the use of pronouns!
Introduce yourself using your pronouns to create this open conversation however keep in mind that some people may not be comfortable sharing them yet.
- Understanding the difference between sex and gender.
Sex is what someone is born with biologically (e.g. male or female) however gender can represent a wide variety of differences! Gender is the way you present yourself to everyone else, if someone is asking to be seen as a certain gender that is their gender.
- Try not to use gender-specific language.
Lean into using the singular ‘they’ to create a diverse conversation. ‘They’ would simply replace where you would say He/She and can be used as a singular.
- Step away from expressions that are gender-biased.
Examples of gender bias such as “Be a man” create a negative environment surrounding gender.
I got someone’s pronouns wrong! What do I do?
If you have not done this with malicious intent it is okay! Humans make mistakes. If you need clarification simply apologise and ask the person what pronouns they would prefer. Correct yourself and move on!
Click here to view a simple guide on how to respect other people’s pronouns. Practice makes perfect!
Another step towards LGBTQ+ inclusion is education. Educating yourself on LGBTQ+ history allows for a more informed take on inclusion as it becomes easier to understand by it is crucial. Educating others within your business will only further promote inclusion.
Linked below are some accessible places to begin your education:
- Reading lived experiences allows you to understand and be empathic when talking about inclusion. Click here.
- Learning about the history of LGBTQ+ rights allows you to understand how far the movement has gone to support LGBTQ+ people. Click here.
- A quick and easy timeline of LGBTQ+ history is an easy way to understand the past of LGBTQ+ history. Click here.
Why is this so crucial?
Educating yourself on the history of the LGBTQ+ community is an amazing way to expand your knowledge whilst creating a divisive community. It allows for a natural understanding to be held, and more empathy. Understanding and empathy are crucial to inclusion. It is also interesting to look at the idea that most schools do not educate on LGBTQ+ history so you are filling in a crucial knowledge gap.
Understanding LGBTQ+ discrimination
Remember that the acronym LGBTQ+ stands for:
Lesbian – A woman attracted to other women.
Gay – A man attracted to other men.
Bisexual – A person attracted to more than one gender.
Transgender – When someone’s identity does not correspond to the sex they were born as.
Queer/Questioning – This may be someone who does not want to label themselves with the above or simply are unsure. (which is completely fine!)
Discrimination within the LGBTQ+ community is not simply tied to gay people. For example, Transgender people experience transphobia. (Transphobia is defined as being harassed simply for being transgender. By understanding the LGBTQ+ acronym you will have a broad understanding of what different forms of discrimination comes in.
“Discrimination made me feel as though I couldn’t speak up, I felt so isolated.”
It is important to remember the effect on the victim in this situation, you need to allow the space to speak up to help! Giving people the space to speak up will empower people within themselves and create a more accepting environment.
Create a zero-tolerance policy
A zero-tolerance policy against discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community is a pivotal part of any company moving forward in inclusion. A zero-tolerance policy truly has the potential to create a much more open and comfortable environment. If there is a fear of discrimination with no repercussions those who may be victims of this may not feel comfortable.
What could this look like?
- Defining clearly what LGBTQ+ discrimination is.
- Talk to your employees about what they need to maintain and help you with this policy.
- Create an open space to report discrimination.
- Take all reports seriously.
Create a positive environment in which everyone supports each other, this will boost inclusion.
Active support is such an important factor in inclusion however this is often looked over. Supporting the LGBTQ+ community may be an inherent acceptance or just stating ‘you do not have a problem with gay people. However, active support requires a full understanding of what you are doing with your support.
What could active support look like?
- Introducing yourself with your pronouns.
- Showing genuine curiosity towards learning.
- Being polite with questions.
- Understanding each person may experience discrimination differently.
- Accept when someone corrects you.
LGBTQ+ inclusion does not have to be an entirely serious task. It is possible to also make it fun! Once you have done the hard work to boost and help inclusion within the workplace why not enjoy it?
This may look like:
- Having pride flags around as a visual sign of inclusion.
- Having a mini pride celebration.
This can allow as much creativity as you want, have fun with it and so will your employees.
Thank you for reading through my blog post! If you are reading this to improve inclusion within your business you are truly doing an amazing job by educating yourself already. It is so important to remember that anyone you know could be a part of the LGBTQ+ community and you simply may know it. So treat everyone with kindness and love!
If you would like to read about my personal experience with LGBTQ+ inclusion and why it is so crucial click here.
Do you have any tips on how to help LGBTQ+ inclusion? Let me know!
A special thank you to Raphael Renter, Sharon Mccutcheon, Alex Jackman, and Steh Nobre for the photographs.