Letting Your Pride Shine at the Office

June is Pride Month, a time of year when we celebrate the accomplishments and impact lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) individuals have had in the world. The month of June was chosen in the U.S. to commemorate the Stonewall Riots, which took place at the end of June 1969.  

While it is difficult to get an accurate count of the LGBTQ+ population, according to a 2018 Gallup report, about 4.5 percent of working Americans identify as LGBTQ+. According to a 2011 report, up to 43 percent of LGBTQ workers reported being harassed in some way due to their orientation or gender identity. Yet there is no federal law protecting the rights of employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in the U.S.

While the U.S. has a long way to go in terms of equal protection for the LGBTQ+ community, many companies have taken the matter into their own hands. 93 percent of the Fortune 500 now include “sexual orientation” and 85 percent include “gender identity” in their nondiscrimination policies.

Here are just some of the ways to celebrate Pride Month in the office:

Walk the talk
Pride Month is the perfect time to share experiences and increase workplace education about the LQBTQ+ community. Partner with a local non-profit to educate the office on bullying, language sensitivities, and inadvertent biases often felt by the LGBTQ+ community in and out of the office. Go further than educating the office on what not to do and provide examples of how to be an ally and what to do when witnessing bullying or harassment. Don’t single out your workplace’s LGBTQ+ employees and require them to share their experiences. Rather, foster an environment that is a safe and accepting place. 

Shifting cultural climates in the workplace needs to be a top-bottom approach, meaning leadership at the C-suite needs to demonstrate executives and the company are allies to the LGBTQ+ community. A great way to start is through adding an equality statement in the company’s mission and values as well as providing equivalent benefits for same-sex couples when it comes to paid leave and health care, among others.  

Wear all the colors of the rainbow
Rainbow flags have become ubiquitous with LGBTQ+ pride. Designate a day in June to host a pride event in the office and encourage employees to wear more color in their wardrobe. Make it a pride potluck and have employees bring in colorful foods, such as rainbow veggie pizza and rainbow cookies, to celebrate.

Take the party to the next level and host a talent show fundraiser to support nonprofits serving the LGBTQ+ community. To vote for their favorite act, colleagues have to give donations, with each contestant choosing a different charity to support. The talent show is a fun way to bring the office together and learn a little more about each other's unique skills.

Let’s celebrate
Companies such as Thomson Reuters have employee group outings at Pride parades, and there are many other events celebrating the LGBTQ+ community throughout the month of June (and year-round). While participation is voluntary, during Pride Month encourage your office’s LGBTQ+ employee resource group or human resources department to circulate company-wide weekly newsletters promoting local events.

By promoting Pride Month in the office, those who are closeted at work may feel more compelled to share their LGBTQ+ status with co-workers. Why is this important? LGBTQ+ people who are in the closet at work are 73 percent more likely to say they’ll leave their companies within the next three years.

In a time when companies are starved for talent, inclusive environments are a smart business move: research shows that nearly all companies with anti-discrimination policies credit the policies with having a positive impact on annual sales and are linked to greater job commitment and satisfaction, better workplace relationships, improved health outcomes and increased productivity among LGBT employees.

What is your office doing to celebrate pride month? Tell us by emailing marketing@wforce.org