Pride gives the opportunity to not only come together, something we’ve been really missing for more than a year and half, but to represent and protest for hard-fought rights. For some it may also be their first chance to celebrate their sexuality publicly.
It’s important therefore, that the void is somehow filled or acknowledged by businesses as well as individuals.
Organisations have the chance to put some of that energy, time and money into alternative ways of recognising the importance that Pride has to many people. And as there is no officially recognised event, businesses have the opportunity to reflect more seriously on what Pride means to us and how we, as corporates, can support our staff.
Mark the occasion, but don’t stop there
Staff sporting rainbow lanyards or lapel badges, and hanging a rainbow flag outside does indicate a level of inclusion within the workplace that gives a person confidence in being themselves and being out. There’s a huge amount of value in that because it gives you a sense of safety, but this needs to be backed up with actions.
At my workplace, we’re hosting an open-invitation breakfast event with guest speakers, including representatives from our company’s diversity group to speak about their experiences as LGBT+ professionals.
Rather than just serving up rainbow pancakes, we hope to have engaging discussions about the importance of Pride. Another great idea would be to delve into London’s storied LGBT+ history through a walking tour of Soho, the city’s main LGBT+ scene, to provide more context on Pride.
While celebrating London Pride is necessary, holding another event in a month when there isn’t another reason to do it will show your employees that you’re thinking about LGBT+ acceptance all year round.
Supporting LGBT+ employees:
Review and reflect on ED&I strategy
Pride is a great opportunity to take the time to review and reflect on ED&I strategy and goals for the business. Leaders should include representatives from all levels of the practice, to really engage with how to improve your approach to being an even more inclusive business community.
A good place to start is through implementing policies about accepted language in order to create a culture where people feel valued and respected. An inclusive culture not only encourages staff to remain with your business, but also encourages other people from diverse backgrounds to join you.
An inclusive working environment is crucial to business success and employee happiness, and continually reviewing and renewing ED&I strategies is central to this.
Companies need to make sure there is a positive education of people about how to be an ally. That can’t be underestimated.
We need to have allies in our offices who speak up when they see something wrong and are interested in learning. Having allies encourages a much more open conversation, because people realise they can talk about their sexual orientation and be themselves.
People who hold positions of privilege need to be active allies, and take responsibility for making changes that will help others be successful. Allies should use their credibility to create a more inclusive workplace where everyone can thrive, and find ways to make their privilege work for others.
It’s a real shame that Pride has been cancelled again, particularly as it’s predominantly an outdoor event and so many other large-scale events, like football and festivals, are resuming.
It can leave you feeling as if LGBT+ inclusion is less important than these other events. Though streets in central London won’t be shutting down this year for the Pride parade, businesses showing their support of LGBT+ employees in other ways will go a long way in creating an inclusive environment.
Lucy Smith is a board member of Freehold, a networking forum for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender professionals working within the real estate sector.