Due to lingering safety concerns as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, sadly this year’s long-awaited return of London Pride will not take place in September as originally planned.
While there may be no parade, honouring the struggle and achievements of the LGBT+ community should not be confined to one date on a calendar. It’s important for everyone – businesses included – to do their part to become effective LGBT+ allies.
Here are some ways you and your teams can develop key allyship skills so your workplace is one where every LGBT+ person feels like they belong.
Get to know the lingo
Doing something simple like reading a glossary of terms is a small, but crucial first step in educating yourself and ensure you’re using respectful language.
Educate yourself on the history of LGBT+ activism
Exploring the history of the LGBT+ movement will help you honour the efforts and sacrifices of those that went before. Having an appreciation of how far the community had come in its struggle for equality will give you an understanding of how far society still has to go.
Discover the challenges that still exist
Finding out more about the obstacles the LGBT+ community still faces today will help you, as a leader, understand the support that is needed for LGBT+ people within your workforce, identify incidents of discrimination, microaggressions and exclusion, and put measures in place to prevent these from happening.
The best way to discover the personal challenges experienced by LGBT+ people is to listen. If an employee would like to share their experiences or concerns, be prepared to actively listen and ask questions respectfully. Remember, however, that this should never be forced and an LGBT+ person should not have to be responsible for educating you about the struggles of the community.
Check your privilege
Part of educating yourself is taking a mirror to your own privileges and biases. Everyone has their fair share of struggles in their life, but if you’re white, straight, cis-gendered and able-bodied, it’s likely there are some things members of the LGBT+ community have gone through that you would never have had to worry about. Understanding your privilege – and the biases that may be a product of them – can help you empathise with marginalised groups.
Get involved in the community
London Pride may not be happening this year, but there are still plenty of ways your business could show support – from rainbow flag displays to support on social media, from LGBT+ employee forums to having a presence at future parades and events. Your show of solidarity demonstrates to your teams and future employees that you’re a company where everyone is welcome.
Walk the walk
Make sure that if and when incidents of discrimination happen in your workplace that you take action to show that such behaviour will not be tolerated. Ensure there are clear ways, such as employee hotlines, that victims and witnesses can report such incidents and that no complaints are swept under the carpet when they arise.
Don’t be a performer
Allyship doesn’t stop with a social media post or an attendance at an event. It’s a consistent process that involves continual learning and small everyday actions. If your main concern is publicly shouting about your allyship credentials without putting in this daily work, then you’ve fallen into the trap of performance allyship which, at the end of the day, will do little to support those within your workforce who really need it.
Be ready to mess up
Part of continual learning is messing up sometimes. Perhaps you’ve had a chat with someone who is trans or non-binary and used the wrong pronoun, or made the wrong assumption about someone’s sexuality. It happens, so just apologise, correct yourself and learn from the mistake. People will appreciate your honesty and effort.
If you’d like to further the allyship skills within your teams, Tell Jane has launched a brand-new training workshop, delivered by trainers with lived experiences, designed to help employees understand the many identities within the LGBT+ community and make your workplace truly inclusive for all. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more and book your place.