As you look around at all the rainbows popping up this month, you may be wondering why so many companies embrace this occasion and show up to support the LGBTQIA+ community, at least on a superficial level. It’s a good question, especially when there are myriad other issues that companies don’t endorse in nearly as public of a manner. There are many factors behind this dynamic, some of which are grounded in deep, systemic issues within our society, and others of which vary from company to company. Ultimately though, regardless of their reasons, every organization should recognize and champion their employees from underrepresented communities every day of the year and especially during these designated months of visibility. LGBTQIA+ folx continue to be persecuted each and every day around the world, so the more companies that openly celebrate Pride at work, the better.
Making the decision to celebrate Pride at work isn’t just good for the LGBTQIA+ community, though. While many big name companies have already made their stances known, there are many more who may still be unsure whether or not they should speak out and/or plan events for their employees. For those organizations in the latter camp, we strongly encourage you to do so. Taking steps to celebrate Pride at work, even in a small way, can pay off in droves for your employees and your brand alike. Here we’ve assembled our top three reasons why you should celebrate Pride at work.
What it looks like to celebrate Pride at work
Despite the bright colors of the Pride flag, celebrating Pride at work doesn’t have to be a flashy undertaking. You don’t have to ask people to wear rainbow clothing or hold an over-the-top event. If you’re looking to celebrate Pride at work, you can focus on more understated, but meaningful acts, such as educating team members about why and how to use pronouns, and updating your company email signature template to encourage people to specify which pronouns they use. You can also spotlight team members who identify as part of the LGBTQIA+ community, not for their affiliation, but for all their achievements and interests regardless of that piece of their identity. Highlighting the incredible diversity of talents among those who identify as LGBTQIA+ can help shift the focus away from tokenization and towards true inclusion.
All that said, if you do want to hold an event, there is a multitude of ways to engage. From organizing a contingent from your company to attend a local Pride event together, to holding your own celebration in-house with rainbow treats and activities to help individuals learn about the LGBTQIA+ community and so much more. As always, don’t hesitate to consult your colleagues to get their input on the subject, and if you have employee resource groups, be sure to bring them into the conversation as well given their key role in driving workplace inclusion. Consider hosting a screening of an LGBTQIA+ show or movie with a discussion afterwards as an easy way to get both remote and on-site employees involved.
Another, sometimes overlooked opportunity is to focus on social impact. Pride month can be a great time to develop a partnership with a local (or national) nonprofit focused on supporting the LGBTQIA+ community whether through advocacy, direct service, or other approaches. Scheduling volunteer shifts, organizing fundraisers or supplies drives, and/or simply assisting employees to connect with charities they may be interested in can go a long way towards raising awareness and helping LGBTQIA+ people in need during Pride month. Whether you decide to go with a big event with a lot of fanfare, or a more understated approach, celebrating Pride at work can make a big difference for your employees, including in the ways outlined below.
3 reasons why you should make it a priority to celebrate Pride at work
While some businesses simply may not be inclined to address any issues that don’t directly relate to their core business services, and that’s their prerogative, there are actually quite a few potential benefits companies can gain from standing up for the LGBTQIA+ community. As with anything though, your efforts have to be authentic and go beyond making empty statements in order for you to reap the benefits. For instance, some companies have been accused of ‘rainbow washing’ for trying to capitalize on the financial goodwill from changing their logo to a rainbow version while allowing environments that are exclusive or outright discriminatory towards LGBTQIA+ community members to proliferate inside their organizations. Below are some reasons you might want to skip the ‘rainbow washing’ and take true steps to celebrate Pride at work in support of the LGBTQIA+ community:
- It drives inclusion. Approximately 4.5% of the U.S. population identifies as part of the LGBTQIA+ community. Odds are, depending on the size of your company, you likely have employees who identify with this community currently working for you. You may not know it though because nearly half of all LGBTQIA+ employees are not out at work. One in five LGBTQIA+ folx has experienced discrimination when applying for jobs, and 70% have been sexually harassed while at work. These are dire statistics that make it all the more important for your company to step up and take a firm stand in support of LGBTQIA+ rights. Going beyond the rainbow logo to actually celebrate Pride at work in a real way can be a step in the right direction towards encouraging everyone, LGBTQIA+ or not, to bring their whole selves to work at your company. Making space for different voices and lived experiences can go a long way towards building inclusion for every employee.
- It’s good for your customer and employer brand. A 2021 study found that 86% of the general population believes that companies should speak out publicly on social issues. If your company isn’t aligned with consumer and employee expectations, it will be difficult for your brand or your team to thrive. Buyers want to know that your company stands in solidarity with them and their friends and family, employees want to know that you have their backs no matter their identity, and on top of all of this, using your power to fight for those who are powerless is simply the right thing to do. In other words, stay silent or continue to actively oppress underrepresented communities at your own peril. On the flip side, many companies have seen far-reaching financial and exposure benefits due to their decision to celebrate Pride at work. The choice is yours.
- It’s important for recruiting top talent. As we stand on the precipice of the anticipated ‘turnover tsunami’, star players are going to have more opportunities than ever. You’ll have to make an incredibly strong case as to why they should choose your company. If you can’t demonstrate legitimate ways in which you support employees and help drive broader social progress, you’re going to lose out on talent to companies that do. Of course, the organizations with the best and brightest, the most cohesive teams, and those truly dedicated to driving the company’s success are the ones that will see their profits flourish, so it’s incumbent upon you to take the necessary steps to come out on top.
As attitudes and ideals continue to shift, it’s increasingly to companies’ benefit to take a bold and authentic stand on making the world a better place. This includes seizing the opportunity to celebrate Pride at work as a way to build inclusion, support broader social change, and ensure your employees know that you value and appreciate them for who they are, not just what they do for you. If you’re looking for ways to build inclusion on a daily basis, and not just during Pride month, we invite you to check out Workrowd, the employee experience platform that serves both people and profit. You can also drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about how integrating an employee-led approach into your culture and engagement efforts can help you meet and exceed your goals. Happy Pride!