While many Pride parades took place over the weekend, it’s important to remember that June—the entire month of June—is Pride Month, a time for the 2SLGTBQ+ community to celebrate the influence, change and impact they’ve had on the world.
Rooted in political activism, companies need to acknowledge that Pride began as a protest. While celebrating the strides the 2SLGTBQ+ community has made is important, it’s equally as important to recognize there are battles that continue to be fought—within Canada and abroad.
Celebrating Pride month acknowledges the 2SLGTBQ+ people within your organization. But, companies should ensure they steer clear from pinkwashing—promoting products or people through “an appeal to gay-friendliness”.
For HR professionals, Pride Month is the perfect time to begin working on employee engagement through the 2SLGTBQ+ lens. But, it should be noted, celebrating, acknowledging and embracing the 2SLGTBQ+ community shouldn’t be limited to the month of June, and should instead be an ongoing endeavor in the workplace.
Don’t Just Slap on a Rainbow Flag
Too often organizations embrace Pride Month by slapping Pride flags everywhere. While the symbol is important, flags without context can come off as pandering and even condescending.
Know the history and share it with staff.
For instance, this year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Stonewall Riots (also known as the Stonewall Uprising), an event that saw the 2SLGTBQ+ community fight back against police brutality and harassment in Greenwich Village in June 1969. Stonewall is the reason Pride Month is celebrated in June.
2SLGBTQ+ history is vast and incredibly diverse. Engage employees by sharing daily bits of history via email, include links to further reading. But when you do this, ensure the history you share is varied and inclusive.
Arrange a 2SLGTBQ+ Focused Seminar
Celebrating Pride means acknowledging the difference in experience, the struggles and fight this wide-ranging community has lived.
Make celebrating Pride Month a learning experience for your employees. Bring in a trained professional (someone who identifies as part of the 2SLGBTQ+ community) to talk with your staff about 2SLGBTQ+ inclusion.
Pride at Work Canada is an organization that helps companies communicate strong leadership messages on 2SLGTBQ+ in the workplace. They offer in-office seminars as well as online certifications.
Collect Donations for a 2SLGTBQ+ Charity
There are many charities focused on the 2SLGTBQ+ community. Pride Month is an opportunity for companies to learn about these different organizations and their focus within the 2SLGTBQ+ community.
Consider organizing a lunch and learn to help employees discover the different charities available, what they do, and how they do it. Pick one or two that staff can donate to in the spirit of Pride.
A few organizations to start with include:
- Blockorama & Blackness YES
- Lesbian Gay Bi Trans Youth Line
- Trans Lifeline
- The Canadian Centre for Gender + Sexual Diversity
Support Company-Wide Diversity and Inclusion Groups
Encourage open communication.
Foster an environment where people feel free to be out and open without fear of recrimination. Inclusion, diversity and the embracing of both must be built into the fabric of your company’s culture.
It’s not enough to say it, inclusive actions such as creating a Diversity and Inclusion team, demonstrate a company’s dedication to these ideals.
Affinity groups are an easy way to get many diverse groups of employees in the same space together. They provide a safe space for open dialogue, discussion on personal experiences and sensitive topics.
Being an Ally
Celebrating workplace diversity and inclusion should always be at the forefront for any progressive organization. But remember, creating an inclusive workplace is an ongoing and ever-evolving process.
Pride Month is the perfect opportunity for companies to engage with employees about the triumphs and struggles of the 2SLGTBQ+ community, so long as they focus on the community’s diversity and fight for inclusion.
Companies need to know that being an ally is not an identity, it’s an acknowledgement of the work a person/organization has done.