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Jun 20, 2023 Ryan Humphreys

How To Support Employees During Pride Month (Without Pinkwashing!)

Pride month is an important time to celebrate and support the LGBTQ+ community, and as a company, it's crucial to understand how to show genuine allyship. However, it's equally important to avoid "pinkwashing," where a company superficially supports LGBTQ+ causes for marketing or public relations purposes.

In this blog, we'll explore why Pride is still important in 2023, the role of employers in creating inclusive workplaces and the significance of lifting up employee voices.

It's also important to remember that true commitment to LGBTQ+ equality should have year-round dedication, so we'll explore how to review and adjust your internal processes for inclusivity and to remove bias.


Why Pride Is Still Important In 2023

Pride month continues to be significant because it honours the history of the LGBTQ+ rights movement. However, to view Pride purely as a celebration of how far we've come is a dangerous myth.

Some may argue that the western world has achieved equality for the LGBTQ+ community, reducing Pride Month to a party. In comparison to some other places, this view is understandable (for example, Uganda became the latest country to punish homosexuality with death), but is still an oversimplification of a very complex matter.

In 2015, the UK was considered the most queer friendly country in Europe, but has dropped to 17th place in 2023 (ILGA) and an independent UN expert called the rampant surge in hate crimes, abusive speech and violence against LGBTQ+ people deeply concerning.

My tip for this Pride month on how to be an ally is simple: please just recognise that there is still so much more to be done.

The Role Of The Employer And Lifting Up Employee Voices

As an employer, your role extends beyond providing a safe and inclusive workplace for LGBTQ+ employees. It's also about actively demonstrating support during Pride Month and beyond.

When more than a third of LGBTQ+ staff have hidden or disguised their identity at work due to fear of discrimination (Stonewall), it's clear that companies have a significant role to play.

One of the most effective ways to connect and support employees is by actively lifting up their voices, providing them with platforms and opportunities to share their experiences and perspectives. Here are a few ways to achieve this:

  • Employee Resource Groups (ERGs): Establish or support LGBTQ+ ERGs within your organisation. These groups can create a sense of community, provide networking opportunities, and offer valuable resources and support.
  • Employee Advocacy: Empower LGBTQ+ employees to use their social media platforms as a tool to amplify their voices and share their experiences, challenges, and victories. By empowering your employees to speak up about the challenges they face, you're not only creating a more inclusive workplace, but also contributing to a wider cultural shift towards acceptance and equality.
  • Guest Speakers and Panel Discussions: Organise guest speaker events or panel discussions featuring LGBTQ+ leaders, activists, or subject matter experts. This can help educate employees and promote understanding and empathy.
  • Employee-led Initiatives: Encourage employees to organise LGBTQ+ awareness campaigns, workshops, or events. This empowers them to take ownership and lead initiatives that matter to them, fostering a culture of inclusivity and advocacy.

It's important to let employees speak, but remember that you can't force them to share if they're not willing or ready. They need to feel comfortable and have something they want to say about the topics they care about.

However, it's crucial to avoid tokenism by not forcing employees to speak on topics they're not comfortable with. Putting the spotlight on employees who aren't ready can come across as insincere and may cause backlash.

How To Bake Inclusivity Into Your Business (And Avoid Pinkwashing)

Simply releasing a statement about supporting Pride month or changing your company logo to a rainbow version is not enough.

Pinkwashing refers to the act of a company or organisation using superficial support for LGBTQ+ causes as a marketing tactic without making meaningful changes or demonstrating genuine allyship.

Here's steps you can take to ensure your support is sincere:

  • Remove Bias From Your Hiring Process: Ensuring that your recruitment process is free from unconscious bias is essential. In a recent LinkedIn Live, we spoke to Nuria Munoz, Head of Talent Sourcing at Microsoft, about the role of an inclusive employer brand in diverse talent acquisition.

    HubSpot Video

    You can watch the full LinkedIn Live here, or listen to the recording on our B2B Social Growth Podcast.

  • Take LGBT Discrimination Seriously: Ensure that you have a robust policy to take action against homophobic and transphobic workplace bullying and make sure that all employees are aware that it will not be tolerated. Introduce a speak-up system for this (and other types of bullying) to be reported.

  • Support Transgender Employees: Transgender employees face a unique set of experiences and challenges. For those in the process of transitioning, HR plays a crucial role and will need additional training in order to be informed allies.

  • Evaluate Your Benefits: Assess your company's policies, practices, and benefits to verify that they're not unintentionally excluding LGBTQ+ employees. This includes ensuring that benefits like parental and adoption leave is equal, regardless of the person's sexual orientation.


Final Thoughts

In conclusion, Pride month serves as a crucial time for companies to celebrate and support the LGBTQ+ community, but to ensure genuine allyship and inclusivity, businesses must go beyond symbolic gestures.

Remember, true commitment to LGBTQ+ equality extends beyond Pride month. It requires year-round dedication and ongoing efforts to create an inclusive culture.

Visit Stonewall and Workplace Pride for more information and tips on how to support LGBTQ+ employees.

Click here to read our diversity and inclusion blog series

About Tribal Impact

Tribal Impact is a B2B Social Selling and Employee Branding Agency.

We're a team of social media strategists, trainers, coaches, content creators and data analysts who are passionate about helping our B2B customers develop and scale their social selling and employee advocacy programs.

Learn more about us here.

Published by Ryan Humphreys June 20, 2023
Ryan Humphreys