According to Stonewall's Workplace Report, more than a third of LGBT+ staff have hidden that they are LGBT+ at work for fear of discrimination, and almost one in five have been the target of negative comments or conduct from work colleagues in the last year. Employers and colleagues can take simple steps to be better LGBTQIA+ allies in the workplace to help change this, and create a more inclusive, supportive and productive workforce.
- Develop zero tolerance policies.
- Implement training and encourage education.
- Call out discrimination.
- Amplify LGBTQIA+ voices.
- Share your pronouns.
- Apologise if you get it wrong.
1. Develop Zero Tolerance Policies
Develop zero tolerance policies on homophobic and transphobic discrimination and harassment in the workplace - and implement clear systems for employees to report this discrimination. All staff should be told about these policies, and encouraged to report discrimination without fear of repercussions.
If you aren't in the position to implement policies, suggest it to someone who is - it might not have even crossed their mind, and you can be the one who helps change that. The implementation of policies that protect LGBTQIA+ people can make a world of difference.
“It’s one thing someone saying ‘it’s important because it affects me directly’ but it’s different when someone says ‘I can see how this is affecting someone else and it’s something that we all need to sort out.’ It can make the message stronger.” Louise Bailey, Permitting Officer for West Sussex County Council.
2. Implement Training and Encourage Education
On top of this, you can implement diversity and inclusion training in the workplace. While there is no universal training method that works for every workplace, training that is tailored to your culture is often most effective.
Although you can ask your LGBTQIA+ colleagues questions (with a respectful tone and an open mind), keep in mind that not all LGBTQIA+ people want to explain all aspects of their lives and identities. If you or a colleague wants to learn more, the internet has thousands of fantastic resources that you can use to educate yourself - you'll become stronger allies as a result. You can find some of these resources at the end of this post.
3. Call Out Discrimination
It's not always comfortable to call out discrimination, in particular if the person is a friend or in a more senior role to you in the workplace. However, it is an important part of being an LGBTQIA+ ally, and helping to create a work environment where everyone can feel accepted and safe.
Even comments that are often shrugged off as light "workplace banter" can still prevent a colleague from being open about their life and are often reflective of larger issues, so call it out when you see it.
It’s also important to address your own unconscious biases. This is more of an internal process in which you should unpack why you've thought or said a discriminative remark or stereotyped a colleague, and commit to educating yourself.
4. Amplify LGBTQIA+ Voices
Draw attention to your LGBTQIA+ co-workers accomplishments and amplify their voices where appropriate. Inviting LGBTQIA+ speakers to events and panels is a fantastic way to do this.
For Pride Month, we invited two speakers to share both their achievements and issues they’ve faced in the workplace as part of our Be The Change: LGBTQIA+ event. The first was Jamie McCallion, co-owner of the successful and growing data & infosec consultancy 13 Fields, to share her experience as an out trans woman in the South Wales Tech Sector. She was joined by Operations & Strategy Consultant Lucy Bulley, who discussed her experiences of building a career as an openly gay woman in business. This was a successful and informative event with fantastic, actionable advice for all who attended.
While you can (and should!) show support and amplify LGBTQIA+ voices all year round, Pride Month is a great time to celebrate LGBTQIA+ people's contributions to the world - and to your workplace.
5. Share Your Pronouns
Sharing your pronouns - how we refer to others without using their name (e.g. she/her) - encourages trans and non-binary people to share their pronouns without fear of being ostracised. You can do this on LinkedIn and other social media - most of which have features built in to seamlessly share your pronouns - or in your email footer.
We all make mistakes; as long as you aren’t being malicious, most people will be grateful for an apology when you don’t get it right. Most of the time this is better than saying nothing at all.
This list is far from exhaustive, but it's a great place to start. If you have any more tips on how to be a better LGBTQIA+ ally in the workplace that you'd like to share, please do leave a comment down below.
LGBT+ Cymru - Helpline and counselling services.
Stonewall Cymru - LGBTQ+ events in and around Wales.