“So let me be clear: I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.” –Tim Cook, CEO of Apple
Happy Pride month! Each June presents us with an opportunity to grow as individuals, professionals, and allies. Pride month gives us the chance to learn more about ourselves, our families, and our colleagues.
Diversity is important at work, and it requires our ongoing support and attention. Diverse professional cultures have an edge, a multi-dimensional reach. Companies that cultivate diversity have a gravitational pull that moves internal and external stakeholders alike. Diversity is no token gesture; companies that prioritize diversity incubate a wide breadth of understanding that attracts vast audiences who each see themselves in that workforce, message, mission, and company.
Fully engaging in the invitation that each June extends means becoming more informed and, ultimately, more authentic. This fuels engagement which benefits staff as well as the recipients of an organization’s mission.
“Money and career growth are obvious factors in employee engagement, but there is so much more to it. If you want engagement at the highest level, you need to align employee interests with management and ownership. One way you can create this alignment is through genuinely sharing core values, interests and priorities. Celebrating pride at work is one way to show that management cares and supports LGBTQ+ employees and the community.” Explains Michael Alexis, CEO of TeamBuilding.
Celebrating Pride enhances our personal education, our relationships, and our professional culture. This year, the occasion might look a bit different, as we may be showing our pride while working remotely.
It’s still important to embrace the opportunity. Alexis points out: “For remote staff, Pride celebrations (and connection in general), are even more important. Your people don’t see each other face to face on a daily basis, and so you need to invest time and resources in making sure they can build relationships, trust, communication and more. Pride celebrations are an excellent way to achieve this.”
Whether you’re working remotely, in the office, or you have a hybrid arrangement, consider these five ways to show your Pride in 2021.
Learn something new.
This year marks the fifty-first anniversary of June’s annual LGBTQ Pride celebrations. We honor pride in June to commemorate the Stonewall uprisings. The Library of Congress explains:
“June 28, 1969, marks the beginning of the Stonewall Uprising, a series of events between police and LGBTQ+ protesters that stretched over six days. It was not the first time police raided a gay bar, and it was not the first time LGBTQ+ people fought back, but the events that would unfold over the next six days would fundamentally change the nature of LGBTQ+ activism in the United States.”
The first Pride March took place on June 28, 1970, marking the anniversary of the start of the uprising. The story of LBGTQ individuals in the US is an important history to learn. Their fight and the ongoing struggle for civil rights are seldom taught in schools. Make this your year to get more deeply versed. Make a commitment to advancing your understanding of what that struggle was like. It’s a vital part of our American story.
Educating ourselves is a great way to show our pride as individuals and as a community. Plus, when you make your own commitment, you can show your pride from anywhere. That’s especially helpful if you’re working remotely this June.
Do something fun.
Get involved in a company activity honoring pride. It’s a way to learn more, invite your team’s participation, and enhance your corporate culture. Your efforts can be especially meaningful if you can tie your work into the larger community by supporting a local non-profit that assists the LQBTQ community. Alexis shares this example: “Our staff members created a Pride-themed trivia session that we are doing as an internal team-building event. The trivia is a way to bring people together for fun and education, and we further the impact with charitable giving. The winning team selects relevant charities, and our company will donate $50 on behalf of each of our 100+ employees. This combination of internal recognition and external community support is an excellent pairing.”
Pull together some trivia questions, play some Pride bingo, or watch a movie together that enhances your LGBTQ knowledge and understanding. This also stands to serve as a bonding experience for your team.
“Celebrating Pride at work shows employees, LGBTQ+ and otherwise, that they are an important part of your organization. The result is happier team members, higher productivity, increased retention and more — it’s win-win for everyone.” Alexis shares.
Let your ERG lead the charge.
Glassdoor’s Employee Resource Groups have contributed much to our culture. If your company has a similar program, consider pursuing membership. If your company does not, see what it takes to establish a similar program at your workplace.
Historically, Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) have served and supported corporate America’s culture since the 1970s. Typically organized around a shared, immutable identity, such as race, gender, age, or mental health, they serve as a haven of belonging, offering a space for underrepresented employees and their allies to find one another.
Employees who decide to be part of an ERG usually join to experience a reprieve from the daily micro-aggressions they endure inside the workplace and out. ERGs are internal advocacy organizations to help employers become more equitable and inclusive. People who decide to join ERGs are aiming to make an impactful change within their companies.
ERGs can also be instrumental internal leaders and partners when it comes to planning awareness events including Pride celebrations. ERG members are the employees who are best positioned to understand how to honor an awareness event associated with their identity; because they are members of a voluntary resource group, it insulates employees from being tokenized during a certain time of the year when an awareness event is celebrated.
This positions employee resource group members to lead the celebrations in ways that are safe and meaningful for them and for their colleagues. ERG members can take the lead in writing trivia questions, identifying meaningful speakers, or selecting meaningful movies to view as a team. ERGs empower colleagues with a shared identity to bring celebrations around their shared identity to the workplace without tokenizing them.
Wear your pride on your sleeve.
Hang your Prides flags in your office. Add a Pride logo on your company profile picture. Share your favorite Pride or civil rights quotations on agendas you distribute during June. Wear your “Love is Love” t-shirt to the office in June.
Radiating your support in a host of ways sends a powerful message: this is a safe space. This is a welcoming space. Everyone is invited here. Allies are standing by.
Alexis points out: “For allies, navigating ideas like gender and sexuality can be awkward, especially at work. While you may be very supportive, you may also not know how to show that support — it may be weird to randomly tell your LGBTQ+ colleagues ‘I support you’ — you may not even know how they identify. However, when the entire office or remote team is celebrating Pride, you cut through those barriers and allow everyone to be supportive in an open and understood environment.”
Arrange or participate in a program.
If you’re in a position to arrange a speaker for your team or workplace, a great speaker can have a tremendous impact on a culture. While many offices are still virtual, this is a great way to create a virtual or an in-person program. Inviting that perspective is a helpful way to deepen your understanding and that of your team. A speaker can offer insight and perspective that can enhance culture for LGBTQ employees and their colleagues.
When it comes to planning or participating in programs that are truly impactful, it’s helpful to balance fun activities with those that build knowledge and awareness. “Your celebrations can be educational in both direct and indirect ways. For example. hiring a speaker to lead an LGBTQ+-themed lunch and learn for your team would be more direct. Watching a themed movie together would still be educational and could lean more toward entertainment. I recommend finding a balance of both.” Alexis shares.
Whether you are planning or participating in June’s events, aim to find a balance that builds your knowledge base and gives you the chance to have fun with your colleagues.
The pandemic has been a long difficult experience. Finally, we can return to our social lives and, increasingly our workspaces. It’s an ideal time to renew our commitment to diversity and to each other. Actor George Takei remarks: “We should indeed keep calm in the face of difference, and live our lives in a state of inclusion and wonder at the diversity of humanity.”