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Pride is for Everyone: 5 Ideas for Celebrating Pride at Work
June marks the beginning of Pride Month, a time for queer communities and allies to come together to celebrate the queer identity through workshops, panels, lecture series and in countless other ways. It’s easy to join in the surface gestures of rainbow flags and social media solidarity, but how can company leadership empower teams and facilitate meaningful efforts in recognition and support of LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer) employees?
Pride does not discriminate, and welcomes allyship from all communities whether identifying as straight or uncertain. The month of June can and should be the start of a year-round commitment to raising awareness about LGBTQ+ issues, and ensuring diversity equity and inclusion (DEI) resources specific to the queer community are readily available companywide.
Why Pride at Work?
The Pride celebrations of today boast the participation of millions of LGBTQ+ individuals and community supporters by way of everything from parades to lunch-and-learns. No matter the work environment, everyone can contribute to embracing a diverse and inclusive workplace which should include the unique experiences and contributions of those identifying as queer.
Pride did not begin with rainbows and fireworks. The original Pride march on June 28, 1970, was the one-year anniversary of a critical point in LGBTQ+ history when police came up against queer protesters in what is known as the Stonewall Uprising. Pride was born out of commemorating this six-day struggle when queer people of color rioted against police raids and police brutality that targeted the gay community in Manhattan NY. The location has a small park dedicated to the remembrance of this event.
Pride month celebrations in the workplace afford employees at all levels an opportunity to be vocal and actionable about their support of the queer community. It also provides a yearly platform for less informed colleagues to learn about the community, learn about what it means to be an ally and learn about past, present and goals for future progress.
Let’s consider some practical and festive ways to incorporate the spirit of Pride Month in the workplace:
1. Employee engagement
Supporting LGBTQ+ employees must begin with the identification of where they need support. Giving voice to their concerns by way of employee engagement surveys gives DEI leadership and HR a glimpse of the day-to-day challenges, inequities and discrimination faced. These employee experiences then become the catalyst for changes that strive to beget an overall improved employee experience for everyone.
2. Education for all
Including Pride Month celebrations on your company calendar should come with some education for the employees who might not be acquainted with Pride Month history. Consider in-person or prerecorded training to raise awareness about LGBTQ+ workplace-specific challenges, and encourage sensitive and inclusive language.
Pronouns, and chosen names/preferred names are significant markers of identity for many transgender and non-binary individuals. Inclusive language experts can help to convey the gravity of inclusive language and can help bridge any gaps experienced by well-meaning allies who may lack the appropriate supportive language.
3. Ask and you shall receive
For questions pertaining to supporting the LGBTQ+ community, there is no better resource than the community itself. Hosting an LGBTQ+ panel can help to answer anonymously posed questions about how to be an ally, how to ask about pronouns, or preferred/chosen names, or how to address same-sex partners (spouse? husband/wife? partner?) in conversation. LGBTQ+ colleagues should not be expected to educate others on top of their other duties, but when colleague volunteers do lead panels the discourse that results are more personal and valuable. Gaining insight into the identity of familiar individuals and their community values can be just the motivation a team needs to become inclusive allies.
Elevate the panel by inviting LGBTQ+ leadership to lend a voice to the discussion. They may offer a unique perspective on the effect of their queer identity on career advancement. Leadership from various backgrounds and experiences discussing the hurdles they’ve cleared and the challenges they navigate day after day become a source of both enlightenment and inspiration for all employees.
4. Policy review
Pride month presents a yearly opportunity to review your company’s business practices as they relate to DEI policies, services and support. A thorough analysis specific to DEI and the LGBTQ+ community might consider:
- Updating software to allow employees to self-identify gender and appoint preferred pronouns and/or preferred or chosen names in digital or paper correspondence
- Staying current on discrimination protection laws and including workplace policies against LGBTQ+ discrimination
- Facilitating ongoing data collection on hiring, retention, equal pay and benefits that support equitable and inclusive practices for present and future LGBTQ+ employees
Consulting with professionals well-versed in the practice of reviewing business policies for inclusivity can help ensure a smooth and cohesive analysis. Ensuring DEI efforts are extended to all marginalized communities is a task best managed by experts.
At Spectra Diversity our experts are well equipped to assess both your business and the individual for perceptions of DEI in the workplace. It’s not enough to acknowledge the struggles faced by LQBTQ+ individuals and their intersectional identities. The next step is to make certain that a company’s policies, products and service model are supportive and accommodating to the needs and preferences of the queer community in question.
5. Have some fun
Pride is all about the “loud and proud,” so use this time to broadcast companywide support of the LGBTQ+ community with a parade, company picnic, or after-work party. Pride month swag can add color and cultivate an atmosphere of support through rainbow flags, t-shirts, costume jewelry and tote bags. The simple act of wearing a Pride t-shirt can communicate support and allyship between co-workers who may have never broached the subject with words.
Every June marks an integral time for businesses to put a spotlight on the successes of their LGBTQ+ staff meanwhile acknowledging potential challenges they face and focusing on building a workplace culture of inclusivity and support.
Celebrating Pride Month can and should be equal parts policy review and parades!
So long as your organization recognizes the work, and exercises a year-round commitment to honoring a genuinely DEI-rich workplace, a rainbow flag can only add to (and not take the place of) the hard work already underway. Pride is for everyone, love is love, be an ally, celebrate progress and be a conduit for change.
ADP, How to Celebrate LGBTQ+ Pride Month at Work: 6 Ways, Brett Daniel, 2023.
HR Exchange, Pride Month: 6 Ways to Show Up For LGBTQ+ Colleagues, Francesca Meglio, June 2022.
Human Rights Campaign Foundation, Corporate Equality Index, 2023.
Work Tango, How To Celebrate Pride in the Workplace in 2023 and 2024, 2023.