The spirit of Pride Month is celebrated every year in the month of June. It’s a time of celebration for the LGBTQ+ community and an opportunity to raise awareness of the inequalities, violence against and persecution of the LGBTQ+-community over the past few decades. It’s a time to stand in solidarity in the movement to stop and prevent hate, intolerant behavior and discrimination toward LGBTQ+ people.

According to a statement made in the GLAAD Pride Month blog, “As leaders in our community… we call on our allies across the country, including corporations and those in the business community, to publicly speak out in support of the Equality Act. It’s simple: protecting all LGBTQ people, including LGBTQ people of color and members of the Trans community, is both good for business and good for the world.”

Acceptance and equality can only be provided if leaders and organizations work to eradicate the inequality, discrimination, and harassment against those employees who identify as LGBTQ+. Here are a few tips that companies can implement to ensure they are protecting their vulnerable and disproportionately impacted LGBTQ+ staff:

Uphold Anti-Discrimination Laws
Although Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 has been in place to protect worker’s rights in the workplace for over 55 years, it wasn’t until April 4, 2017 in a significant landmark victory for gay rights, when a federal appeals court in Chicago ruled to include sexual orientation, expanding the existing worker protections for gay workers from job discrimination and sexual harassment.

It is in violation of federal to discriminate or harass based on gender, sexual orientation, sexual identity and gender expression. An organization can put in place company-wide policies and practices to prevent against these actions toward their LGBTQ+ employees, ensuring that no one is discriminated against on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Additional Steps to Take
Diversity and inclusion initiatives within an organization are just one additional step a company can take to ensure their LGBTQ+ employees are respected and treated with dignity. It takes more than a policy and a statement to demonstrate the company values. It takes leadership to take a stand, accept and value their employees and to foster a work environment of acceptance.

Some of the ways this can be done is to treat all employees with respect. For example, if a manager or Human Resources is notified that an employee is going through a gender transition, a company-wide email might be provided to all employees indicating the transitioning employee’s new name, preferred pronouns and legal language outlining the rights of the employee with respect to accommodations and protections.

Be Understanding and Use Non-Offensive Language
Our language changes regularly. New words, terminology and definitions are added frequently as we evolve. Words and phrases that may have been permissible and okay to use in the past, may now be outdated. Managers and leaders should remain on top of language use that is disrespectful to the LGBTQ+ community. A very helpful reference guide can be found on the GLAAD website. Such terms as “sexual preference” or “homosexual” are now deemed derogatory and offensive and preferred language to use is “sexual orientation” and “gay” or “lesbian.”

Leaders can demonstrate respect by continually educating themselves on inclusive terminology. To build a more inclusive work environment, where the LGBTQ+ community is valued and respected, leaders must find ways to educate and improve communication and trust through open and honest dialogue.

For additional best practices and inclusive policies, contact our HR Consultants , they can help coach and train leaders on building a more respectful and inclusive work environment.