With summer just around the corner and the first signs of strict Covid-19 restrictions lifting, the arrival of Pride Month couldn't be much better. This movement against hate crimes and the freedom of sexual orientation and gender has grown in recognition and influence since the very first protests with the Stonewall riots in New York City, 1969.
The LGBTQ+ community, that being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and gender non-conformers, celebrate Pride month in order to raise awareness of the continued oppression whilst also demonstrating in a way that is fun and positive.
First, we will look at how gay pride came to be, before then discussing the importance of celebrating diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Following this, we will then run through the 10 ideas that you may consider when coordinating your own celebrations during this fabulous month.
Check out our Essential Guide to Diversity and Inclusion here 👈
The history of gay pride originates from the initial protests that took place in New York City. The catalyst for these protests was the response to a police raid of the Stonewall Inn found in Greenwich Village on June 28, 1969. Each subsequent Pride march or event is dedicated to celebrating those that retaliated against the police in pursuit of gay rights, in what was know as the Stonewall riots.
Pride parades now take place all over the world, however, they originated in the United States. Known as 'The Mother of Pride', a key coordinator of these initial Pride marches from 1970 onwards was Brenda Howard. The role of Brenda Howard and other LGBT rights activists has contributed to the actualization of millions of people's civil rights.
Without gay pride events, it is very likely that anyone in the LGBTQ+ community would continue to be oppressed by government and society even today. Prior to the push for the liberation of gay rights, all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people were discriminated against and disregarded by the rest of the world.
The influence of LGBTQ+ activism has grown and within the past ten years, there has been significant legal progress worldwide. Changes have taken affect very gradually, however, in the United States, there are finally federal laws that protect and prohibit employment discrimination against gay and transgender employees. Meanwhile in the UK, the Equality Act 2010 gave LGBT employees protection from discrimination, harassment and victimization at work.
This global celebration has brought LGBTQ+ rights into the limelight and all Pride parades will continue to run in memory of historical victims of an unjust system whilst also celebrating their success in establishing recognition and ending their oppression.
Nobody should be discriminated against at work for their sexual orientation or gender identity. Despite anti-discrimination laws and the mainstream acceptance of the Pride movement, there are still places in the world where employees feel pressured to keep their identities secret to avoid facing consequences at work. It is therefore important to celebrate Pride month in the workplace because we need to show all employees that they are welcomed and accepted, regardless of their identity.
The Covid-19 pandemic has been especially difficult for members of the LGBTQ+ community, so it is even more important to celebrate their resilience by uniting virtually this year. HR leaders have the power and responsibility to celebrate their people, showcase their unique stories and amplify diverse voices. We need to come together to show support for the LGBTQ+ community and fight for equality.
Creating educational opportunities is the best way to promote inclusion at work. A hands on diversity training session, which should be led by an external professional, will empower and educate employees. Educational workshops will help employees learn when to use the correct terms and pronouns, whilst ensuring that gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer and transgender employees are understood at work.
Booking an external speaker to discuss LGBTQ+ issues and their experiences will teach employees the importance of inclusivity at work. They will inspire employees to be more inclusive, and to be great allies to the LGBT community. To find the perfect speaker, contact a reputable booking agent.
One of the most meaningful and actionable things a company can do to mark Pride is to make a company donation to an LGBTQ+ charity. You can either donate a lump sum to your organization of choice, or offer to match employee contributions. Another great way to encourage donations is to run a company wide fundraiser, and split the proceeds between several different organizations. Here are some suggested charities to get you started:
If you are not in a position to invest financially, encourage staff to pursue volunteering opportunities and raise awareness of various causes.
With the right diversity and inclusion strategy in place, your organization can develop a workplace culture where each and every employee is valued. Regardless of identity, everyone deserves to work in a safe, supportive and inclusive environment and have their voice heard.
A well-crafted policy will effectively outline the company's values, and explicitly communicating such policies to employees shows that the company takes these issues seriously. Moreover, a sound diversity policy will reduce implicit bias in your hiring process and help you make improvement to your diversity initiatives when necessary.
Download our sample Anti-Discrimination Policy here👈
Lunch and learn sessions are a great way to discuss important topics as a team in a fun and engaging way. Employees can either stream a live webinar or join a virtual meeting with their colleagues whilst taking a break from their daily tasks. Topics could range from how to be a great ally, mental health in the LGBTQ+ community or gay rights across the world. These sessions should be led by a dedicated speaker, or you can ask queer or transgender employees to share their experiences if they feel comfortable doing so.
At the heart of any Pride celebration is the Pride parade. Whilst restrictions on meeting people may be limited due to measures against the spread of Covid-19, this doesn't mean that the party can't go on. Organizing a fun activity such as this virtual Pride parade will enable employees to become more engaged with each other and the promotion of the LGBTQ+ community.
In order to recreate the Pride parade itself, ask employees to record themselves either walking on their road or through their kitchen. You can encourage the use of costumes, accessories or any other decorations to make the most of the spectacle. To commemorate the event, these recordings can be stitched together so that your whole team can have a giggle and relive their Pride moment when they look back on their spectacular virtual Pride parade.
It may not be quite the same as partying in San Francisco but this Pride day is sure to be jam-packed with fun!
If your company already runs an established book club then reading LGBTQ+ authors is a great way to celebrate Pride month. Even for teams that do not have a regular book club, hosting an online book club will facilitate better team engagement as employees share the experience.
The discussions that come from arranging this book club will also encourage a more open conversation for colleagues to talk about the LGBTQ+ community and their wider experiences. A well-organized online book club will facilitate a more inclusive and inviting discussion space for all employees.
Here is a list of some of our top reading suggestions:
The simple act of hanging some rainbow flags and banners will not only celebrate Pride month, but it will also act to increase employee morale. By bringing some color into the office, employees will recognize that the company supports the LGBTQ+ community. Moreover, the act of showing recognition will demonstrate that the office is a safe place for employees to be open about their identity.
For those still unable to return to the office, another simple yet impactful gesture would be to celebrate Pride month with your background on Zoom. You can find a whole range of options online, making this switch will have the same effect as decorating the office, only from a virtual setting.
Nearly every company is present on social media, in these modern times it is almost counterproductive to not have an account on Twitter or LinkedIn. Through the use of social media, any individual can make their voice heard or support a cause.
Take some time to update your social media accounts to commemorate LGBT Pride month. From using the frames made available by the various social media platforms to share posts with information on Pride events, the act of publicly demonstrating your company's support for the LGBTQ+ community will fill any gay, queer or transgender employee with confidence.
Even simply attaching a relevant hashtag to every tweet or post during Gay Pride Month will highlight your solidarity with the movement. Commitment to the cause all month long will also communicate to LGBT people that you company supports their freedoms.
Depending on how well you know your Pride, you may elect to create your own quiz or find a Pride month quiz online. Much like any other quiz, you can encourage employees to break up into teams for this Pride event. By arranging a Pride month quiz, employees will develop a stronger understanding of the history of Pride whilst also openly communicating with colleagues on the subject.
From testing how well your employees know LGBT activists such as Brenda Howard to the current population of transgender women in the United States, this activity will be fun for all participants. Running a Pride-themed quiz at some point in this month will be well-received by any LGBTQ+ people in your team whilst also improving the education of those less aware of the history of Pride.
As you can see, there are lots of ways you can celebrate Pride month and promote diversity, equity and inclusion at work. Remember that these initiatives are not simply corporate box-ticking exercises, but aim to promote more inclusive workplaces all year round. Use this month to learn, educate and celebrate your diverse teams, after all, diversity makes us stronger.
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