How can organisations better support LGBTQIA+ employees in the workplace?


It's Pride Month, and with D,E&I at the forefront of every company's HR agenda, this is an opportunity for organisations to further demonstrate their support for their LGBTQIA+ employees.

D,E&I is becoming increasingly imperative for business success, and therefore companies need to get their strategy right regarding Pride Month. It is no longer enough to give a brief nod of acknowledgement during the month of June; actual actions need to be taken to demonstrate a company's support for the community. While any activities are a step in the right direction, organisations need to consider how they embrace the celebration and back up their initiatives by embedding their policies into the fabric of the business for the long term. 

It's become the standard for companies to launch 'rainbow flag campaigns' during the month of June, using these on their social media and within advertising, but public opinion is changing; with just 14% of Gen Z looking favourably on companies doing so, compared to 42% of baby boomers. A recent article on the subject highlighted precisely this point, reporting how last year, Bud Light had created what was likely supposed to be a well-meaning 'rainbow flag campaign', which ended up offending as it was seen as a potential publicity stunt. Conversely, Kellogg's ran a far more well-received campaign in 2021, which used a catchy slogan 'boxes are for cereal, not people'. This was then backed with action by donating profits from sales to support the GLAAD organisation in its efforts to accelerate acceptance and equality for the LGBTQIA+ community.

So, what can businesses do to show their support during Pride Month and beyond? Here are some ideas to help your company embrace the celebration and improve inclusion and equity for LGBTQIA+ employees in the long term.

Partner with LGBTQIA+ charities 

This can be a great way to show that your company is taking real action and is something which could be implemented during Pride Month but can continue far into the future as part of general D,E&I policy for supporting all minority groups. 

A percentage of profits from sales of a product created specifically for Pride Month could be donated directly to a charity, as Kellogg's did for their 2021 campaign, or like footwear brand UGG, who is partnering with The Trevor Project, they are both promoting the organisation through advertising at their store locations and making a $125,000 donation. Not all businesses can necessarily afford this level of commitment but working in partnership to raise awareness of a charity and making a suitable donation appropriate for your company will still show the same level of support.

Hold education sessions 

Education is key to success in creating a diverse and inclusive workplace. Using Pride Month as a springboard for launching D,E&I learning sessions for staff on topics such as unconscious bias or courageous conversations could be a progressive way to show that the company supports and values its LGBTQIA+ employees. 

Create employee resource groups 

Again, this is not something which can only be done for Pride Month and isn't exclusive to the LGBTQIA+ community, but it could be a great time to start a scheme like this if your company doesn't have one already. Employee resource groups are voluntary, employee-led groups within a company usually comprised of employees who share a particular characteristic such as gender, religious affiliation, ethnicity or lifestyle. Creating an employee resource group for staff who identify as LGBTQIA+ can not only help to show these individuals that they are valued but also allow them to meet other employees who identify as part of this group. 

Ensure you have true D,E&I with LGBTQIA+ represented in leadership positions

Not specific to Pride Month but of enormous importance to inclusion, having visible leadership from underrepresented groups is key to paving the way for others and driving real change within organisations. Ensuring that employees from the LGBTQIA+ community are both represented at the managerial level and also given the same opportunities as others to achieve leadership status can help to create a truly diverse and inclusive workplace and, as reported in our previous blog on the subject of D,E&I, businesses with inclusive cultures are up to eight times more likely to achieve better business outcomes and retain talented staff. 

If you are looking for talented individuals to help develop your D,E&I strategies, talk to our expert recruitment team at McGregor Boyall today.