The Importance of Visible, Internal, LGBT+ Allyship at Your Organization
June 22, 2021
June 22, 2021
Each June, more businesses are waving pride flags, more companies are putting rainbows in their logo, and more policy makers are giving recognition to the importance of this month. A soft reminder of the essential, top-down support and solidarity the LGBT+ community is receiving in all corners of the public space.
But as an employee, even if your company acknowledges Pride Month in their monthly newsletter and changes their logo – is that enough? Do members, like myself, of the LGBT+ community feel safe and comfortable to fully be themselves in their everyday work setting?
An organization’s internal, visible LGBT+ allyship is essential to creating a safe, comfortable space that helps ensure a company’s culture and success.
For me, this is a personal matter. There are few public places in my life where I’ve felt comfortable coming out as non-binary and asking those I work with to use my pronouns of they/them. Upon accepting a job offer here at Solomon McCown & Cence, those feelings were no different.
That was, however, until my soon-to-be manager calls me a few days before my start date. He said, “Hey! I did a quick Google search of you…” – as you can imagine, I was terrified. He continued, “…and I saw in your Twitter you have your pronouns listed as they/them. I just wanted to check to make sure we get them right, and if it’s alright with you, mention this in your introduction to the team!”
I cannot express the feelings of pure relief and joy that overwhelmed me as I quickly responded, “Absolutely!”
This small act of allyship gave me the confidence and courage to fully be myself my first day here and those that have followed since – every day, it has a direct correlation to my success.
Other than a phone call to someone you work directly with, how can colleagues ensure their allyship and support is known to all members of the company? Below I’ve rounded up a few tips.
According to PEW Research Center, 1 in 5 people in the US know someone that identifies as outside of the gender binary, making it highly likely there are folks in your organization that do as well. Do they feel seen and accepted at work?
It is becoming increasingly more common to see companies using pronouns in their email signature. This simple addition normalizes the conversation of gender and doesn’t single out the employees who may use a pronoun that falls out of the binary or one that doesn’t meet their stereotypical perception. It also is an indirect way of showing your support and allyship for gender inclusivity and diversity.
For me, this was a key factor that solidified my decision to work for a company that values gender identity and acceptance.
When we go into the office, or sign on remotely, we don’t leave our individual identities at the door. We carry these with us always, giving every single employee a unique, individualized set of experiences and perspectives that directly relates to the work we do.
By allowing LGBT+ people to speak and be seen in the professional space at the same level of freeness as straight, cis people do, team members can cultivate a workplace standard that is accepting of all identities and experiences.
There is no “professional” way to have pictures of families at your desk, to talk about your weekend, or to mention your significant other to your colleagues.
By empowering and celebrating these differences, instead of hiding them, employees can be encouraged to utilize their full potential and feel connected to the team members they work directly with every day.
Often times, LGBT+ individuals are navigating a new space assessing if the people and environment are one that is safe to be themselves in. These small acts of intentional allyship can be crucial to the way a team cultivates a safe, comfortable environment.
Small acts of allyship range widely on what they can look like. Some examples can include tangible acts of support, such as symbolic pride material like keeping a pride flag or stickers at your desk. Other acts can be intangible, like small comments in small talk that use intentional, gender-neutral language – saying “significant other” or “partner” instead of boyfriend/girlfriend.
These are just a few of the many ways team members and colleagues can show visible support for the LGBT+ community year-round, not just in June.
When it comes to true inclusion, day-to-day interactions with your colleagues and peers matter just as much as written policy and formal processes.
The world won’t change overnight, but if we all work to change our own corners, then eventually the world will change.