It’s June once again, and you know what that means: it’s time for Pride Month. Throughout the month, we spend time recognizing the achievements of the LGBTQ+ community, honoring their history, and doing some serious work on where we can do better as members of the community or as allies. How can your organization truly embrace the spirit of Pride?
The month of June was chosen to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in New York City. What started with a police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a local gay bar, on June 28, 1969, led to a week of rebellious protests and physical clashes between LGBTQ+ activists and police. Stonewall marked a major turning point in LGBTQ+ liberation and sparked the gay civil rights movement. Now organized, these gay civil rights groups demanded protection and acceptance from the United States government. In recent years, the spotlight has been particularly on the contributions of community members overlooked for decades, including but not limited to drag queens, transgender people, and gender non-conforming people.
The first Pride march in New York took place on the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising. In the five-plus decades since, Pride has expanded into a month-long event. It celebrates the LGBTQ+ community, their identities, and their contributions to society, while also recognizing the progress still to be made and the lives and stories lost along the way.
In the workplace, it seems like LGBTQ+ inclusion is something of a mixed bag, particularly when it comes to intersectionality (for instance, employees who are part of underrepresented groups both in terms of sexuality and in terms of race, or race and gender identity, and so on). This leads to the issue of being the “only” person in the workplace with a particular identity, which can create feelings of isolation and lack of understanding and support, both as a person and as a professional looking for career advancement.
One 2020 study from McKinsey revealed several of the realities that LGBTQ+ people face in the workplace, from a lack of career advancement to microaggressions and more:
- LGBTQ+ women make up 2.3% of entry-level employees, but only 1.6% of managers and even smaller shares of more senior levels.
- LGBTQ+ women are twice as likely as women overall to report being an “only,” and they’re seven times more likely to say so than are straight white men. LGBTQ+ women of color are eight times more likely than straight white men to report being an “only.”
- Bisexual women are 13 percentage points more likely than straight women and 28 percentage points more likely than straight men to have experienced microaggressions.
- LGBTQ+ women are almost twice as likely to feel the pressure to “play along” with sexual discussion, humor, or actions, compared to their straight-women and male-LGBTQ+ counterparts. Meanwhile, half of LGBTQ+ women report hearing sexist comments or jokes about their gender while at work, which is 1.5 times more than straight women and 2.6 times more than LGBTQ+ men.
- 15% of LGBTQ+ women believe their sexual orientation will negatively affect their career advancement; 30% of LGBTQ+ report feeling the same way.
- 29% of self-identifying straight trans people report feeling that their gender is a barrier to career advancement; 53% of LGBTQ+ trans people say they feel the same way.
Support for LGBTQ+ employees and communities goes way beyond Pride Month celebrations. To build a truly inclusive workplace, it’s critical for organizations to address issues at every level. For instance, managers (and employees at any level) can speak up against microaggressions and assumptions, while also deliberately using more inclusive language in everyday conversations and in corporate policies. Structural support that is intentionally inclusive (trans-friendly healthcare, non-gendered parental leave policies, HR systems that smooth the process of changing a name, pronouns, or other documentation).
Displays of allyship – crucially paired with real, measurable action and well-enforced policies – can help to signal that your organization is a welcoming place. This can include things like a robust training (and reporting) system to stop microaggressions and offensive behavior in its tracks, inclusive hiring practices, mentorship opportunities, and much more.
By building and maintaining a truly inclusive workplace, you’re ensuring that your employees feel comfortable being their true selves, that they can feel happy and secure, and that they can live up to their best potential personally and professionally – and that’s a win for everyone.
By Ruben Moreno
About the Author
After a 25-year career in Corporate Human Resources and HR Executive Search, Ruben Moreno and his two partners co-founded Blue Rock Search based on a simple but ambitious vision of creating a firm that would “Change Lives and Organizations One Relationship at a Time.” Ruben leads the Blue Rock HR/Diversity Executive Search practice specializing in the identification, assessment, recruitment, and onboarding of Chief HR Officers and Chief Diversity Officers and their respective teams — inclusive of leaders in Talent Acquisition, Total Rewards, HRBP’s, Learning & OD, HR Technology, HR Operations, and HR Analytics. Ruben has helped place hundreds of HR Executives and built deep relationships within the CHRO community across multiple industry verticals. His clients consider him a trusted partner who takes the time to understand their business and add value beyond executive search.