Walking the Walk: Pride Month 2023
June is pride month, and as companies and businesses have been bringing out the rainbow livery there will inevitably be questions around whether they will be simply talking the talk for the month of June or if they are committed to walking the walk all year round.
With the current global political climate, it is becoming even more important that businesses commit to creating inclusive environments where everyone can feel safe and empowered, free of fear and stigmatisation.
There are many ways in which businesses can help promote an inclusive culture and ‘walk the walk’, and we have highlighted just a few below:
Allowing people to use chosen pronouns and names – allowing space for employees to specify their chosen pronouns and names on paperwork, encouraging employees to have their chosen names and pronouns on their work signature and including information about pronoun usage during employee training can help normalise the use of preferred pronouns and names.
Providing training on inclusive language – this helps remove the burden from LGBTQIA+ employees to act as educators and gives allies the support and direction they need to feel confident to support their colleagues. Inclusive language usually entails very small changes that can make a big difference to the feeling of inclusion and help create a more open and empowered workplace e.g. replacing the use of ladies and gentlemen with gender neutral terms such as folks, teams, everyone.
Gender Neutral Dress codes – allowing employees to choose from a range of clothing so that they can pick the items that they are most comfortable in.
Bathroom access – providing gender neutral bathrooms or policies that allow employees to use whichever bathroom aligns with their gender identity is an important way to show trans and non-binary employees they are valued.
Creating inclusive policies – Ensuring that employee training and education is backed up by company policy is important to provide clear guidelines on how to avoid discrimination and where to seek help or report any problems.
It is not about chasing perfection but about creating a space where open dialogue can be held and LGBTQIA+ employees feel supported and empowered to be themselves. Slipping up on inclusive language, accidentally using the wrong pronouns happens. It’s creating an environment where employees feel safe and empowered to correct each other or to make mistakes and then correct themselves.
A failure to create inclusive policies ‘can cost businesses dearly in the form of higher employee turnover, decreased engagement and productivity, and possible litigation (https://hbr.org/2020/03/creating-a-trans-inclusive-workplace).
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