How to be an LGBTQA+ ally at work
In the workplace, it is everybody’s job to encourage inclusion.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits sex discrimination–and that includes discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. While these rules help to create a more inclusive environment for LGBTQ+ workers, everybody needs to play their part in creating an environment that promotes equality.
In a survey by the Human Rights Campaign, around 46% of LGBTQA+ workers stated that they have chosen to remain closeted at work due to fear of discrimination.
All employees can make a difference to make everybody feel included at work, no matter their sexual orientation.
Here are some of the ways all employees can act as LGBTQA+ allies in the workplace and help to prevent discrimination in places of work.
Stay informed about the LGBTQA+ community’s history to gain a better understanding of the challenges that they face in the workplace. This will help to enhance your own allyship.
Seek out resources online on websites such as ACLU and GLAAD. Consider approaching members of the LGBTQA+ community in your workplace if they are keen to speak up and fill in any gaps in your knowledge.
Remember that everybody is entitled to private lives, and understand that some questions are inappropriate to ask in the workplace. You don’t need to know about gay phone talks or dating as you wouldn’t for coworkers who have the same sexual identity as yourself.
Understand any Bias You May Have
As with any allyship, increasing your awareness of personal bias will help you to become a more rounded LGBTQA+ ally. Implicit biases will advantage certain groups while disadvantaging others simultaneously. These biases will affect diversity in a number of ways- specifically in a work setting.
Having discussions around implicit bias and how it can affect everyday life as well as in the workplace is a great way of addressing the problem. Being aware of the biases you possess is a great way to ensure you address the well-being of all staff members.
Check Your Greetings and Pronouns
‘Hi guys’ is a common greeting that is used, but that greeting will assume the gender identities of the audience. It is a quick way of making people feel excluded from a group if their gender identity is assumed from the outset. When speaking with a group, try to avoid generic greetings such as ‘good morning ladies and gentlemen’ instead, opt for ‘good morning everybody’.
Do What You Can to Take a Stand
More than half of all LGBTQA+ employees have either heard or have been the subject of jokes about their sexuality. On the other hand, an international survey by Out Now Global found that 57% of employees have overheard jokes or discussions on the subject at work but haven’t spoken out due to fear. It is important for your ally ship to not remain silent when you hear such remarks. Company policies should have outlines regarding equality, diversity, and discrimination. If not, speak to your employer or HR about adding such language about respectful workplaces surrounding sexual orientation and gender identity to the employee’s handbook.
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