Every year, more Canadian companies celebrate Pride Month by decorating their online and offline spaces in rainbow colours and hosting Pride events.
But companies are also criticized for not committing to diversity and inclusion year-round. While 59% of organizations promote the importance of LGBTQ2+ diversity and inclusion, only 14% require that managers have a working knowledge of it.1
Making workplaces more diverse and inclusive isn’t just about equity: it’s also about communicating your company’s values to the world and attracting and retaining employees who have a broad range of experiences and insights to contribute to your organization.
Diversity and inclusion also make B2B sense as there are more than 28,000 LGBTQ2+-owned businesses in Canada. They employ over 435,000 Canadians, and they are responsible for $22 billion in economic activity. 2
What Makes a Workplace Inclusive?
An inclusive workplace has these key features:
- Workplace opportunities such as promotions, pay increases, and training are open to all based on merit alone.
- LGBTQ2+ community members can and do contribute at all levels and in all areas of the organization.
- A workplace is safe for everyone: no one feels bullied, threatened, marginalized, or excluded.
How do We Create an Inclusive Workplace?
Making a workplace inclusive is a long-term commitment that must continue beyond the festivities of Pride Month. Take the initiative at this critical time of the year to put some of the pieces into place but build on those as you progress. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Bring in experts from organizations that advocate for LGBTQ2+ rights or members of the LGBTQ2+ community who have insights to share. Some topics they can talk about are:
- Systemic barriers members of the LGBTQ2+ community confront and specific things organizations can do to eliminate them.
- The differences between assigned gender, gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation, and why these differences matter.3
- Using gender pronouns correctly, everyone should consider including their pronouns in their company bios.
- How to address and talk about members of the LGBTQ2+ community. Understanding the appropriate language and terminology goes a significant way toward making a workplace feel safer and more inclusive.
- How people can be better allies to the LGBTQ2+ community.
Pride Month celebrations signal your values to the world, but ongoing internal communications help you walk the talk with your team.
- Create a variety of communications to speak to employees in different media. Try newsletter, blogs, event announcements, discussion board posts, videos, and interviews.
- If your company has an internal social media network, create an account for LGBTQ2+ content and promote it widely.
- Increase your range of topics as you go, ensuring that you’re up to date on the latest news, and verify that you’re using the correct terminology with every communication you issue.
- Communications should be educational but engaging. Use them to draw people into your inclusivity initiatives.
- Open it up for anyone to contribute to these communications, especially members of the LGBTQ2+ community on staff. Be sure to provide a safe context for them to share their stories.
- If you have a prominent person in your organization who identifies as LGBTQ2+, encourage that person to take a leadership role in promoting inclusivity. Seeing that top management has a stake in these initiatives leads the way toward acceptance.
Only 11% of organizations require that their managers have advanced skills in LGBTQ2+ issues that affect their roles.2 Improving this statistic is vital to creating truly inclusive workplaces.
- Organizations such as Pride at Work Canada1 offer self-paced training.
- Larger organizations can also consider establishing permanent positions in-house to provide training programs.
- Human Resources personnel should be well-versed in LGBTQ2+ workplace issues: advanced training is essential for HR professionals.
- Have some fun with your inclusion initiatives by hosting in-house fundraising competitions. Be sure to get senior management to participate to show their support.
- Encourage participation in local fundraising events such as the annual Pride and Remembrance Run.4
- Sponsor an LGBTQ2+ organization or external event directly and partner with them by getting your employees involved in their events.
- Ensure that these activities and partnerships increase awareness and acceptance within your organization while drawing people in with a bit of merriment.
Many of these suggestions are simple, but they’re tangible and can make an impact. They should always be underpinned by your organization’s stated values and an overall, year-round, constantly evolving program to increase awareness, acceptance, diversity, and inclusion.
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- 1 Pride at Work Canada: https://education.prideatwork.ca/
- 2 CGLCC: https://www.cglcc.ca/
- 3 Diverging Perspectives on LGBT+ Inclusion in the Workplace: https://ccdi.ca/media/1070/20150528-report-lgbt-inclusion-in-the-workplace-en.pdf
- 4 Pride and Remembrance Run: https://www.priderun.org/event-details-2022