Updated: Jul 16
Every June, the whole world celebrates pride month as a tribute to those who took part in the Stonewall Riots. It is a month to show support for the LGBTQ+ community at all levels. As wonderful as it sounds, however, for many people it is still simply an attempt to be trendy. Many companies, for example, limit themselves to changing their corporate logos to the rainbow flag, believing that such support will suffice.
Although pride month has come to an end, we are positive that support for the LGBTQ+ community should be showcased throughout the year. It is the responsibility of companies to empower their employees who are dealing with underrepresentation and discrimination throughout the year.
According to the Huffington Post, there are some common issues that the LGBTQ+ community faces in the workplace around the world:
lack of legal protection in the workplace
high levels of discrimination in job interviews
fear of losing professional connections or not getting opportunities for development
We have therefore compiled a list of recommendations for companies who want to support their LGBTQ+ employees not only during pride month but throughout the year.
#1 make sure that your company’s official mission and policies reflect statements of support for the LGBT community
In order to demonstrate open support for LGBTQ+ people, you need to make sure that your words do not contradict official company policies. If they do differ, the policy should be updated to ensure that it is inclusive of LGBTQ+ staff and complies with UN standards. It is also very important to communicate the updated policy, expectations and consequences of non-compliance to your employees in detail.
For example, our partner BCG with its Pride@BCG initiative aims to make BCG the most attractive firm for members of the LGBT+ community worldwide, so that they can work for a company that values diversity in all its forms and treats everyone equally in policy and practice.
This is why BCG's values are very clear and reflect their position on this topic: honesty - as a demonstration of courage and responsibility; respect for the individual, his or her abilities and the pursuit of personal growth; partnerships - a long-term perspective guides BCG's relationships both internally and with clients; social impact - a belief in making the world a better place.
#2 ensure transparency of your initiatives
Be clear and specific when creating initiatives to support your LGBTQ+ colleagues. The support should be explicit and give an indication of what it includes. These initiatives may include anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies to make the workplace safer for everyone; benefits for marriage partners; gender-neutral toilets etc.
Diversion and Inclusion is one of Mondi Group’s flagship initiatives, which promotes fair working conditions and diversity in the workplace. Their approach is designed to promote diversity, eliminate bias, and support equal opportunity across all operations. They monitor diversity throughout the business and among senior management and therefore provide equal opportunities for all, regardless of gender, race, age, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or any other differences.
#3 introduce inclusive language in business day-to-day communications
It is important to treat your staff with respect, showing that you care about them and that your office is a friendly and safe place for everyone. Putting pronouns is a simple way to encourage inclusiveness. Another way to show that you care is to place commemorative pride items such as mugs, stickers, flags in common areas.
UniCredit Bank Austria is proud of its decade-long commitment to empowering its highly diverse staff by creating an equal workplace where people of all ages, genders & cultural backgrounds can contribute. UniCredit's D&I targets were identified in 2009 through stakeholder engagement and have since been prioritized by their management as important to business strategy, and are therefore actively monitored.
For many years now, the company has celebrated Pride Month by including several initiatives for its employees. For example, they organized a webinar on inclusive language where they invited colleagues to join this important conversation. They shared useful information, answered key questions, and gave concrete examples and tips that can be applied in everyday practice to become more inclusive.
#4 take care of the well-being of your employees
It is amazing how the policies of many countries have changed over the last decade, choosing to be inclusive and diverse. However, still, not all countries are LGBTQ+ friendly. Therefore, before sending your employees on business trips, you should always check whether, for example, homosexuality is criminalized in the country of destination. It is important to remember that personal safety should always take prevalence over professional responsibilities.
Another way to support LGBTQ+ employees is to take care of their mental health by organising training and support courses for them. Also in many countries companies help with health insurance for transgender persons. For example, Coca-Cola U.S. started offering transgender-specific health insurance in 2011. Coca-Cola HBC Austria focused on promoting diversity and gender balance, as their Diversity & Inclusion Council was just launched in 2019. Further measures – such as an internal mentoring program and strong partnerships - are also based on the strategic approach to anchor the topics of diversity & inclusion even more deeply within the company.
#5 commit to inclusive recruitment practices and eliminate unconscious bias
Organizations should always include awareness of and assistance to the LGBTQ+ community in their recruitment practices. Recruitment teams and managers should be supported to look beyond the traditional approach that occurs in recruitment and to see the benefits of diversity and different perspectives.
Not only does Google work hard to attract the best and most diverse talent, but it also wants them to stay on board. To support this, they develop diversity, equity, and inclusion opportunities among all Google employees. For example, the Equity Programs Group focuses on parity in recruiting and hiring, as well as in performance reviews, promotions, and employee retention.
#6 continue your support once june is over
Although Pride Month has come to an end, we want to remind you that there is still a huge demand for community support at all organizational levels. So never stop improving the inclusiveness of your company and always listen to your employees' opinions and needs. Sometimes just being attentive to your workforce’s concerns can help you make innovative decisions on the road to progress.
Here at the female factor, we give our partners all the tools they need to raise their voices, develop progress and ensure diversity and inclusion to help and support underrepresented groups. Together, we work to create a safe space for our partners and their employees to share their experiences, knowledge, and expertise.
We are building a network of companies and people who believe in equality and diversity in companies, and are committed to supporting their employees - standing up for their rights, eliminating any discrimination at work and respecting their gender identity.