How to Celebrate Pride at Work

Ten Thousand Coffees Team -
June 8, 2022

Analysis from McKinsey as recent as 2020 shows a consistent trend among LGBTQIA+ employees. They feel lonely at work, especially because they are often the “only ones.”

Pride Month is the perfect time to disrupt this narrative and proudly and loudly celebrate LGBTQIA+ employees in your workplace. By crafting meaningful programs for Pride at work and making commitments to support the community after June ends, companies demonstrate that they are a welcoming place to work and that they care about the welfare of their LGBTQIA+ employees in and outside the office.

Need help getting started with programming to support LGBTQIA+ employees year long? We’ve got ideas to spark change.What your organization can do in JuneJune is the start of Pride Months that take place across the U.S. and Canada. Today, it’s marked by lively parades alongside month-long celebrations and activism. Despite the colorfulness and joy seen throughout June, it’s crucial to remember that Pride in America has its roots in a riot. In 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club in New York. The bar was a safe haven for LGBTQIA+ people, where they could be themselves in a world that said kissing and holding hands with someone of the same gender was illegal. This led to almost a week of protests where protesters clashed with the police. One year later, in 1970, people marched from the Stonewall Inn to Central Park to commemorate the riot and kicked off the evolution of what we know as Pride today. Knowing this history is important and gives your organization the context needed to celebrate and recognize this important month.

Give employees time to celebrate

One of the top ways employers can support employees during Pride is by offering them the time and space to celebrate. It sounds simple, but time is one of the most valuable resources busy working professionals and their teams have. Letting employees take time out of the workweek to dedicate to their chosen Pride activities is an important and supportive act. Your organization can celebrate in a few different ways, including:

  • Blocking off time for employees to attend the local Pride parade
  • Giving employees who are active in the community paid time off to carry out their volunteer work
  • Dedicating a day for the whole organization or office to celebrate Pride together

Donate to and volunteer at LGBTQIA+ organizations

Pride is a celebration of identity as much as it is an acknowledgment of history and the current challenges the LGBTQIA+ community still faces. There are plenty of causes at local and national levels that work toward improving social, legal, and health outcomes for LGBTQIA+ folks. The Charity Navigator has a guide specific to LGBTQIA+ Pride Month where you can find organizations you can donate to. You can search by social and legal causes to find one that is aligned with your organization’s mission. There are also local guides, like this one for organizations in Chicago, that provide a list of community centers that would benefit from donations. National organizations your company can donate to include:

Kick off an LGBTQIA+ mentorship program

Mentorship is a proven way to improve career outcomes and elevate underrepresented groups. A mentorship program dedicated to young LGBTQIA+ professionals can boost the representation of LGBTQIA+ employees in your workplace and set them up to be leaders in the company. Putting a year-long program in place to support LGBTQIA+ employees is a great way to celebrate Pride thoughtfully and meaningfully. We can look to the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry for proof of this success. Researchers studied an LGBTQIA+ mentorship program that paired two to three medical students with a physician.

The program met with all participants twice, and mentees and mentors met up to five times during the school year. The feedback the researchers got in an email survey from mentees and mentors was overwhelmingly positive and spoke to the value of mentoring young LGBTQIA+ professionals:

“It makes it easier to envision a future for myself as a bi and trans physician, which means a lot to me.”
“It’s nice to know I’m not alone, and to have people who understand to talk to and vent with when faced with overt or implied prejudice.”
“I feel that it is good for medical students, some who have not been out for long and others who are struggling with the coming out process, to see people who are ‘comfortable in their skin’ so to speak. I feel like I have been able to provide guidance and support to both students and residents in various aspects of their academic and personal lives.”

Successful programs like these are not as challenging to implement as you may think. Platforms like Ten Thousand Coffees make starting and continuing a program easy. We offer automated mentee-mentor matching with our Smart Match algorithm and have a curriculum with conversation starters that are relevant to the program you’re trying to launch — including LGBTQIA+ mentorship programs.

What  your company can do after Pride Month

Embracing Pride celebrations during the month is great, but there’s still much work to be done to make the workplace inclusive, even if it’s remote. Pride is a good opportunity to prompt office organizers and managers to lay the foundation for building inclusive workplace environments all year.

Support an LGBTQIA+ employee resource group (ERG)

Most major organizations already have an employee resource group (ERG) in place to support LGBTQIA+ employees. But if yours doesn’t, start there. ERGs are a space for employees of similar identities to meet regularly and talk about the challenges they face in the workplace. Group leaders also organize regular programming to foster a sense of community. In many places, allies (those who don’t identify as LGBTQIA+ but support the community) are welcome to join and serve as both listeners and advocates. The Human Rights Campaign suggests the following actions for an LGBTQIA+ ERG:

  • Establish a mentoring program to enhance leadership skills, particularly for younger employees.
  • Push for the company’s chief executive officer to publicly endorse LGBTQIA+ inclusive legislation.
  • Identify opportunities for businesses to engage LGBTQIA+ consumers (e.g., obtaining a booth at an LGBTQIA+ pride event, launching an LGBTQIA+ inclusive advertising campaign, and strategic philanthropy to LGBTQIA+ organizations).
  • Identify opportunities to recruit LGBTQIA+ employees (e.g., LGBTQIA+ recruiting fairs, working with LGBTQIA+ groups at local universities, and strategic philanthropy to LGBTQIA+ organizations)

(Source: Establishing an Employee Resource Group)Organizational support is key, whether the group is six months or five years old. Companies should dedicate time and space for the ERG to meet. One approach to strengthening the group’s purpose and reach is by appointing an executive champion. This person is a senior leader who can bring the concerns and ideas of the group to upper management.

Support ongoing education about the LGBTQIA+ issues in the workplace

There are a number of ways companies can provide continuing support and education on LGBTQIA+ culture and issues that affect the community. One of the key ones is regular anti-harassment training. While the sessions are often all-encompassing, including topics on racism or sexism, the training should also highlight LGBTQIA+ issues.

It’s among an employer's main objectives that employees aren’t bullied or outcasts, a number of attorneys noted in an article for the Society for Human Resource Management. So it makes sense that best practices should be to offer training that talks about sexual orientation as well as gender identity and expression. The training should take place yearly, with managers receiving more extensive training. It should cover best practices, like the importance of using the right pronouns or decentering heteronormativity, and also how not to discriminate in the hiring process as well as in performance reviews and promotions. Key objectives include limiting the incidents of harassment reported as well as improving how LGBTQIA+ folks perceive company culture. This education can also come in a more proactive form, like when employees are onboarded to an organization. HR managers can make it clear from the start that their organization values a full expression of gender and sexuality in the workplace while also explaining to non-LGBTQIA+ folks what this expression might look like. Acceptance and respect for these differences, above all, should be emphasized.

How employees and managers can be allies for LGBTQIA+ co-workers

Pride Month centers on LGBTQIA+ people, but allies and non-LGBTQIA+ people also have an important role to play in June and beyond.

Don’t assume people’s sexuality

Some of us are preprogrammed to see the world through a heteronormative lens, meaning we assume that a woman is dating or married to a man and vice versa. So when meeting a new person, colleagues might ask them if they have a boyfriend or a wife. Part of cis and straight people’s work as allies is to deprogram our minds and environments from assuming straightness in the rest of the world. Instead of making assumptions, encourage employees and managers to practice using neutral language and refer to peoples’ partners or spouses as opposed to their girlfriends or husbands. They can simply ask if they are dating someone or married, if appropriate, and don’t assume the partner’s gender. This might seem like a small practice, but it has a significant impact on deconstructing heteronormative environments and creates space for queer co-workers to express their full selves.

Share pronouns in all communications and settings

Sharing pronouns is a small yet impactful act allies can do to create inclusive environments. At work, peoples’ pronouns should be prominently displayed, like in email signatures and on name tags at conferences. “As a team leader, I want to use correct pronouns with my team members,” said Michelle Blanchfield, technical product owner at CAET Chat Applications.

“I feel that this is how I can show them that they matter, and that I respect who they are and how they want to be addressed. Just like our name is something that is ours and ours alone, our pronouns are an extension of that.”

To go further, people should incorporate gender-neutral language in all internal and external communications. For example, job listings should use “they” instead of “she/he.” Greetings in emails and at meetings that address groups should use neutral language, too, and employ terms like “everyone” or “team” instead of ladies and gentlemen. By using gender-inclusive language in all aspects of your organization, you’re setting the standard across the team.

Create an intentionally diverse network

We tend to gravitate toward people who look like us. It’s part of human nature. Part of the work as an ally is to move past this and develop a network of professionals from diverse backgrounds at work. “When you get to know and build relationships with a more diverse group of people, you can help everyone come by the opportunities they deserve by referring and recommending them,” said Marietta Gentles Crawford in an article for the Muse. “You can support efforts to diversify your company and industry. And by connecting with people from all different backgrounds and perspectives, you can gain valuable insight that will make you better at your job, no matter what you do.”Ten Thousand Coffees makes it easy to meet people from all backgrounds at work. Our Introductions feature matches people based on shared career goals and interests — and even their differences. It’s meant to re-create the in-office water cooler experience virtually, so employees can share ideas and aspirations with colleagues they don’t already know, and it’s less formal than an organized mentorship program.

Companies need to show their support for LGBTQIA+ more than ever

Despite marriage legalization and a wider cultural acceptance of LGBTQIA+ folks compared to 10 years ago, the community still faces persistent challenges. There are still ongoing efforts in the U.S. to take away the rights of trans adults and children, along with persistent discrimination and microaggressions against LGBTQIA+ people. If your organization is looking to democratize opportunities for people of all backgrounds, check out our DEI solution to make your culture inclusive and give all employees the opportunity to feel like they belong.

Webinar

How to Celebrate Pride at Work

Analysis from McKinsey as recent as 2020 shows a consistent trend among LGBTQIA+ employees. They feel lonely at work, especially because they are often the “only ones.”

Pride Month is the perfect time to disrupt this narrative and proudly and loudly celebrate LGBTQIA+ employees in your workplace. By crafting meaningful programs for Pride at work and making commitments to support the community after June ends, companies demonstrate that they are a welcoming place to work and that they care about the welfare of their LGBTQIA+ employees in and outside the office.

Need help getting started with programming to support LGBTQIA+ employees year long? We’ve got ideas to spark change.What your organization can do in JuneJune is the start of Pride Months that take place across the U.S. and Canada. Today, it’s marked by lively parades alongside month-long celebrations and activism. Despite the colorfulness and joy seen throughout June, it’s crucial to remember that Pride in America has its roots in a riot. In 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club in New York. The bar was a safe haven for LGBTQIA+ people, where they could be themselves in a world that said kissing and holding hands with someone of the same gender was illegal. This led to almost a week of protests where protesters clashed with the police. One year later, in 1970, people marched from the Stonewall Inn to Central Park to commemorate the riot and kicked off the evolution of what we know as Pride today. Knowing this history is important and gives your organization the context needed to celebrate and recognize this important month.

Give employees time to celebrate

One of the top ways employers can support employees during Pride is by offering them the time and space to celebrate. It sounds simple, but time is one of the most valuable resources busy working professionals and their teams have. Letting employees take time out of the workweek to dedicate to their chosen Pride activities is an important and supportive act. Your organization can celebrate in a few different ways, including:

  • Blocking off time for employees to attend the local Pride parade
  • Giving employees who are active in the community paid time off to carry out their volunteer work
  • Dedicating a day for the whole organization or office to celebrate Pride together

Donate to and volunteer at LGBTQIA+ organizations

Pride is a celebration of identity as much as it is an acknowledgment of history and the current challenges the LGBTQIA+ community still faces. There are plenty of causes at local and national levels that work toward improving social, legal, and health outcomes for LGBTQIA+ folks. The Charity Navigator has a guide specific to LGBTQIA+ Pride Month where you can find organizations you can donate to. You can search by social and legal causes to find one that is aligned with your organization’s mission. There are also local guides, like this one for organizations in Chicago, that provide a list of community centers that would benefit from donations. National organizations your company can donate to include:

Kick off an LGBTQIA+ mentorship program

Mentorship is a proven way to improve career outcomes and elevate underrepresented groups. A mentorship program dedicated to young LGBTQIA+ professionals can boost the representation of LGBTQIA+ employees in your workplace and set them up to be leaders in the company. Putting a year-long program in place to support LGBTQIA+ employees is a great way to celebrate Pride thoughtfully and meaningfully. We can look to the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry for proof of this success. Researchers studied an LGBTQIA+ mentorship program that paired two to three medical students with a physician.

The program met with all participants twice, and mentees and mentors met up to five times during the school year. The feedback the researchers got in an email survey from mentees and mentors was overwhelmingly positive and spoke to the value of mentoring young LGBTQIA+ professionals:

“It makes it easier to envision a future for myself as a bi and trans physician, which means a lot to me.”
“It’s nice to know I’m not alone, and to have people who understand to talk to and vent with when faced with overt or implied prejudice.”
“I feel that it is good for medical students, some who have not been out for long and others who are struggling with the coming out process, to see people who are ‘comfortable in their skin’ so to speak. I feel like I have been able to provide guidance and support to both students and residents in various aspects of their academic and personal lives.”

Successful programs like these are not as challenging to implement as you may think. Platforms like Ten Thousand Coffees make starting and continuing a program easy. We offer automated mentee-mentor matching with our Smart Match algorithm and have a curriculum with conversation starters that are relevant to the program you’re trying to launch — including LGBTQIA+ mentorship programs.

What  your company can do after Pride Month

Embracing Pride celebrations during the month is great, but there’s still much work to be done to make the workplace inclusive, even if it’s remote. Pride is a good opportunity to prompt office organizers and managers to lay the foundation for building inclusive workplace environments all year.

Support an LGBTQIA+ employee resource group (ERG)

Most major organizations already have an employee resource group (ERG) in place to support LGBTQIA+ employees. But if yours doesn’t, start there. ERGs are a space for employees of similar identities to meet regularly and talk about the challenges they face in the workplace. Group leaders also organize regular programming to foster a sense of community. In many places, allies (those who don’t identify as LGBTQIA+ but support the community) are welcome to join and serve as both listeners and advocates. The Human Rights Campaign suggests the following actions for an LGBTQIA+ ERG:

  • Establish a mentoring program to enhance leadership skills, particularly for younger employees.
  • Push for the company’s chief executive officer to publicly endorse LGBTQIA+ inclusive legislation.
  • Identify opportunities for businesses to engage LGBTQIA+ consumers (e.g., obtaining a booth at an LGBTQIA+ pride event, launching an LGBTQIA+ inclusive advertising campaign, and strategic philanthropy to LGBTQIA+ organizations).
  • Identify opportunities to recruit LGBTQIA+ employees (e.g., LGBTQIA+ recruiting fairs, working with LGBTQIA+ groups at local universities, and strategic philanthropy to LGBTQIA+ organizations)

(Source: Establishing an Employee Resource Group)Organizational support is key, whether the group is six months or five years old. Companies should dedicate time and space for the ERG to meet. One approach to strengthening the group’s purpose and reach is by appointing an executive champion. This person is a senior leader who can bring the concerns and ideas of the group to upper management.

Support ongoing education about the LGBTQIA+ issues in the workplace

There are a number of ways companies can provide continuing support and education on LGBTQIA+ culture and issues that affect the community. One of the key ones is regular anti-harassment training. While the sessions are often all-encompassing, including topics on racism or sexism, the training should also highlight LGBTQIA+ issues.

It’s among an employer's main objectives that employees aren’t bullied or outcasts, a number of attorneys noted in an article for the Society for Human Resource Management. So it makes sense that best practices should be to offer training that talks about sexual orientation as well as gender identity and expression. The training should take place yearly, with managers receiving more extensive training. It should cover best practices, like the importance of using the right pronouns or decentering heteronormativity, and also how not to discriminate in the hiring process as well as in performance reviews and promotions. Key objectives include limiting the incidents of harassment reported as well as improving how LGBTQIA+ folks perceive company culture. This education can also come in a more proactive form, like when employees are onboarded to an organization. HR managers can make it clear from the start that their organization values a full expression of gender and sexuality in the workplace while also explaining to non-LGBTQIA+ folks what this expression might look like. Acceptance and respect for these differences, above all, should be emphasized.

How employees and managers can be allies for LGBTQIA+ co-workers

Pride Month centers on LGBTQIA+ people, but allies and non-LGBTQIA+ people also have an important role to play in June and beyond.

Don’t assume people’s sexuality

Some of us are preprogrammed to see the world through a heteronormative lens, meaning we assume that a woman is dating or married to a man and vice versa. So when meeting a new person, colleagues might ask them if they have a boyfriend or a wife. Part of cis and straight people’s work as allies is to deprogram our minds and environments from assuming straightness in the rest of the world. Instead of making assumptions, encourage employees and managers to practice using neutral language and refer to peoples’ partners or spouses as opposed to their girlfriends or husbands. They can simply ask if they are dating someone or married, if appropriate, and don’t assume the partner’s gender. This might seem like a small practice, but it has a significant impact on deconstructing heteronormative environments and creates space for queer co-workers to express their full selves.

Share pronouns in all communications and settings

Sharing pronouns is a small yet impactful act allies can do to create inclusive environments. At work, peoples’ pronouns should be prominently displayed, like in email signatures and on name tags at conferences. “As a team leader, I want to use correct pronouns with my team members,” said Michelle Blanchfield, technical product owner at CAET Chat Applications.

“I feel that this is how I can show them that they matter, and that I respect who they are and how they want to be addressed. Just like our name is something that is ours and ours alone, our pronouns are an extension of that.”

To go further, people should incorporate gender-neutral language in all internal and external communications. For example, job listings should use “they” instead of “she/he.” Greetings in emails and at meetings that address groups should use neutral language, too, and employ terms like “everyone” or “team” instead of ladies and gentlemen. By using gender-inclusive language in all aspects of your organization, you’re setting the standard across the team.

Create an intentionally diverse network

We tend to gravitate toward people who look like us. It’s part of human nature. Part of the work as an ally is to move past this and develop a network of professionals from diverse backgrounds at work. “When you get to know and build relationships with a more diverse group of people, you can help everyone come by the opportunities they deserve by referring and recommending them,” said Marietta Gentles Crawford in an article for the Muse. “You can support efforts to diversify your company and industry. And by connecting with people from all different backgrounds and perspectives, you can gain valuable insight that will make you better at your job, no matter what you do.”Ten Thousand Coffees makes it easy to meet people from all backgrounds at work. Our Introductions feature matches people based on shared career goals and interests — and even their differences. It’s meant to re-create the in-office water cooler experience virtually, so employees can share ideas and aspirations with colleagues they don’t already know, and it’s less formal than an organized mentorship program.

Companies need to show their support for LGBTQIA+ more than ever

Despite marriage legalization and a wider cultural acceptance of LGBTQIA+ folks compared to 10 years ago, the community still faces persistent challenges. There are still ongoing efforts in the U.S. to take away the rights of trans adults and children, along with persistent discrimination and microaggressions against LGBTQIA+ people. If your organization is looking to democratize opportunities for people of all backgrounds, check out our DEI solution to make your culture inclusive and give all employees the opportunity to feel like they belong.

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