As Pride Month kicks off, it’s the time when corporations, organizations, and businesses will be rolling out all sorts of merchandise and campaigns showing their solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community. But what happens once June is over?
Pride Month may be an annual moment to celebrate the accomplishments, contributions, and history of LGBTQ+ individuals, but when it comes to your organization’s diversity, equity, and inclusion strategy, it should go without saying that one month does not create enough of the space your LGBTQ+ employees deserve. And for those of color, the injustice of erasing their voices and lived experiences once July hits is one that can be felt deeply.
While many organizations have implemented practices like sharing pronouns openly (on things like Zoom, email signatures, and more), or will use Pride Month as a time to create content that highlights the LGBTQ+ community, none of that equates to creating a space where queer, non-binary, and trans people can feel valued, heard, and supported. There is a constant negotiation of identity that many professionals of color feel they have to undertake just to get by in their places of work. And for queer, non-binary, and trans folks, that suppression and shielding of their identities is doubly so.
The words “ally” or “allyship” are freely tossed around during Pride Month. Yet if you were to ask your employees who are LGBTQ+ and of color how much they feel valued, supported, and heard by your organization’s allyship year-round, the answers may reveal a bleaker picture than you realize. True allyship goes far beyond flags and social media posts. It means standing with, and up for your teammates when homophobia and transphobia show up in the workplace. It means weeding out the ways bias and discrimination show up in interview processes.
White supremacy culture has shaped the way that many organizations set standards, policies, practices, and values. It’s a culture that feels threatened by the visibility or power of queer, trans, and non-binary folks. Challenging and ultimately toppling White supremacist values in the workplace is a key to liberation. A successful DEI strategy for your organization must acknowledge both the Blackness or racial identity of your team, in tandem with their gender and sexuality.
So what are tangible ways that your organization can create an inclusive and equitable culture this Pride Month and beyond? Below are a few examples to begin with:
Review Policies, Practices, and Procedures That May be Alienating or Unsupportive to Your LGBTQ+ Employees of Color: Do your family leave policies extend to all kinds of partnerships or civil unions? Can the medical plan you offer support trans health benefits, or fertility treatments for same-sex couples?
Equitable Pay: Living in a world that is deeply homophobic and transphobic can mean that people from the LGBTQ+ community are often denied career opportunities, leadership positions, or more visibility simply because of their identity. Do your pay practices compensate for and acknowledge this reality? Thinking beyond what is ‘market rate’ can ensure that your pay policies are providing your LGBTQ+ employees with a wage that ensures they can live safe, healthy, and prosperous lives.
Acknowledge Your Own Privilege: Many LGBTQ+ people who are White believe that their identity as a queer, trans, or non-binary person absolves them from any notion of being racist or discriminatory. Taking a step back to practice humility and acknowledge the power that Whiteness wields can give insights into how your employees of color who are also within the LGBTQ+ community are marginalized, even though you may share the same gender identity or sexual orientation.
The heart of Pride is about ensuring that LGBTQ+ people can thrive and live with dignity in a world that deems queerness or being trans as ‘other.’ Remember that the first Pride was a riot; your organization can play a pivotal role in continuing that movement by moving beyond allyship, and into action.