LABS 90 High Holborn
90 High Holborn, London, WC1V 6LJ
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25th February 2021 | 4 min read
In the last ten years, we’ve made significant changes when it comes to supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) employees in the workplace. However, there is still much to be done on the road to inclusion and diversity. Read on to find out five ways you can become an LGBTQ+ ally in the workplace.
The first way you can become an LGBTQ+ ally in the workplace is by reading up and understanding lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history and the gay rights and civil rights movements. There are so many resources available; from free online resources, to documentaries, films and books, to blogs.
Learn the different terminologies and the difference between them so you don’t have to ask colleagues what they mean. You should also consider other workplace discriminations people may be faced with, including those related to age, sex, physical ability, background and religion.
Another way you can be a supportive LGBTQ+ ally is simply to listen. The power of listening is often underrated, and sometimes people just need someone who will hear them out. If a colleague wants to vent to you, listen. Resist the temptation to interrupt, or offer your opinion. The more we listen to each other, the more we’ll understand, and this will make it easier to remove barriers, raise awareness and create an inclusive workplace culture.
Although listening is important, it’s also vital to take reports of discrimination or harassment seriously. If you have a conversation with someone that concerns you, elevate reports to the appropriate person and make a plan for dealing with them. Actions should have consequences, and you need to make it clear to employees that discrimination and harassment will not be tolerated.
When we witness discrimination in the workplace, it can be very uncomfortable and it’s much easier to pretend you haven’t heard, or say nothing. We all need to do more to support each other, and have the courage to speak up when we see or hear discrimination. This doesn’t need to be done in an aggressive or confrontational way – a gentle correction or reminder is usually enough. If it’s not the right moment to call someone out, take them to the side afterwards.
Whether you work at a large office or you work remotely at a shared office space in Holborn, there should be a diversity policy and future mission statement in place to show employees that they are valued and protected at work and demonstrate your commitment to creating a space where all employees can feel included, safe and accepted. If there isn’t one, take the lead and start one. This includes working with HR or whoever is in charge of hiring to ensure that your recruitment processes are as inclusive as possible, as well as taking steps to work out how you can best create a safe space for your employees to be themselves at work.
You could also consider starting an Employee Resource Group (ERG) to offer further support to employees. This group will be in charge of diversity training for staff, arranging initiatives such as talks, learning sessions and fun activities, and organising big events such as Pride week.
Events like Pride are a great way companies can show their support for the local LGBT community, but it doesn’t have to stop there. Throughout the year, give employees information about local events and groups, celebrate important calendar dates such as National Coming Out Day and encourage your employees to volunteer at LGBT events.
No one is perfect, and the road to being an LGBTQ+ ally takes time. Be honest with your peers and colleagues, admit when you’ve made mistakes previously and own up when you don’t understand something. No one is expecting you to be an expert – and people will appreciate your honesty, rather than staying silent for fear of saying the wrong thing or saying something stupid.
We hope these tips will inspire you to become an LGBTQ+ ally in your workplace. It isn’t hard to listen to colleagues and provide a sympathetic shoulder in times of need. Just be yourself and be open to learning and you’re already on the right path to transforming our workspaces into better, more inclusive places to work.
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