How to celebrate Pride in the workplace
June is a month dedicated to acceptance, equality and celebration of the work of LGBTQ+ people. It’s also about recognising and commemorating LGBTQ+ people and their rights, the progress that has been made and what is yet to come.
A yearly event, it was created following the Stonewall riots in America and has spread in awareness and popularity internationally in the 54 years since they happened. Employers who want to mark this special month, and celebrate the diverse groups within their organisation, have a number of things to think about first. Below, we outline how to get started.
Learn about LGBTQ+ employment rights
First, make sure you know your legislation as there are certain laws in place to protect staff from discrimination. The main law you need to know is the Equality Act 2010.
This protects people from being discriminated against because of the following protected characteristics of age, sex, race, disability, religion, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership and pregnancy and maternity.
This law applies — in any public and business setting — to all workers, not just employees.
It’s important that staff know their legal rights and you understand your legal obligation to uphold this legislation in your workplace. Otherwise, you risk facing discrimination claims down the line.
The Equality Act 2010 outlines the types of discrimination that staff are protected from.
- Direct discrimination — being treated unfavourably because of any protected characteristics.
- Indirect discrimination — being at a disadvantage because of workplace policies or ways of working that discriminate against or exclude any protected characteristics.
- Harassment — being offended, humiliated or degraded by someone because of any protected characteristics.
- Victimisation — being treated badly for making or supporting a discrimination claim.
As you can see from the above, there are different ways that someone can experience discrimination. It doesn’t just happen directly. You could indirectly discriminate without realising.
For example, it could be something as simple as how your system is set up. You might not allow staff to update their details — but this might prevent trans staff from being able to use their preferred name.
Review your policies
Review your workplace policies to make sure there are no inclusion barriers. It’s key to look at your policies on parental leave and adoption, and other family policies. Make sure they’re inclusive of all gender identities and sexualities.
You should also have a policy on equality and diversity that outlines:
- the Equality Act 2010
- your attitude towards equality and discrimination
- the work environment you want to create
- your zero tolerance for discrimination and what will happen if anyone discriminates, ie disciplinary action.
Make sure the language you use in your policies is inclusive too.
Mind your language
The language you use is important — not just in your policies but in how you communicate at work.
People use non-inclusive language every day, such as:
- gendered greetings — “Hey guys/ladies/gentlemen” — this excludes people who don’t fall into a gender binary. It’s better to say “Hi all/folks/friends/everyone”
- inviting people’s girlfriends, boyfriends, wives or husbands to work events — never assume that someone is heterosexual. It’s best to say, partner or spouse.
- gendered job roles and phrases — such as best man for the job, mankind, chairman or barman. Instead, say best person for the job, humankind, chairperson or bartender
- referring to someone’s sexual preference — never refer to someone’s sexuality or gender identity as a lifestyle choice or preference. Instead, say sexuality or sexual orientation
- using the gendered pronouns “he/she” — instead, use the neutral “they/them”.
Back up your words with training and processes
So, you’ve got your policies in place and are using all the right words, what now? At the end of the day, words are just words. To make a real difference, you need to make sure that staff hear and understand your policies.
It’s a good idea to back your words up with diversity training and robust processes.
Diversity training helps staff become aware of their own assumptions and prejudices. It stresses the importance of equality and diversity, and can also help you to boost awareness, build staff morale and stay legally compliant.
And if staff feel victimised, how will you help? Make sure your staff know the processes you have in place to support them and that you will back up your words with action.