Jessica joined RWA in 2018, having graduated with a First Class Honours degree in Film Studies. Her role as a content designer involves developing new and engaging e-learning modules as well as assisting in the creation of articles for Insight.
The month of June marks the celebration of Pride Month, honouring actions of unity and support for the LGBTQ+ community. More than 50 years after the first Pride March in the UK, a lot of progress has been made in the recognition of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual individuals.
In a bid to show support for Pride Month, many companies run the risk of ‘rainbow-washing’, a term used to describe superficial gestures meant to indicate support for the LGBTQ+ community, but in reality, make no further effort to produce an actual outcome further than advertising or promoting a company brand. In doing so, it takes away the whole meaning of Pride, turning it into a commodity that can be marketed or sold. Worse still, it can harm the progress towards supporting LGBTQ+ individuals, promoting harmful stereotypes whilst also reinforcing prejudices against the community.
Actions such as changing the company logo on social media channels to display the Pride Progress flag may appear well-intentioned, but what else is happening beyond that? What happens to that show of support once Pride month draws to a close?
What is your company doing to actively support LGBTQ+ employees?
When done right, a workplace that supports diversity and inclusion can prove to be a real source of strength for a firm, helping to attract and retain high-calibre staff as well as help to respond and adapt effectively to a greater range of customer needs and expectations. Failing that, a firm’s culture that does not try to engage and support staff who are LGBTQ+, neurodiverse, etc. could lead to individuals feeling unsafe or unable to freely express themselves, which may lead to them taking their talents elsewhere.
Show and Tell
Words and actions have a big impact and can leave a lasting image on how we are perceived both in and out of the work environment. Unfortunately, there are times when we may overlook the significance of how our choices can affect others, which in some cases may be unintentionally disrespectful. In any case, Pride Month is an opportunity not just to show support, but also to demonstrate that support, whether that is by aiming to tackle workplace discrimination or by taking a more proactive approach to diversity and inclusion measures in staff hiring and retention.
A part of this stems from learning and education, starting with taking lessons learnt from the past to reshape the future. Taking time to understand why Pride is celebrated, the progress made since its inception, and the ongoing problems faced by the LGBTQ+ community both from a wider historical context and internal experiences among LGBTQ+ employees can help improve the workplace culture and develop wider discussions among staff.
Even small steps such as suggesting an opt-in initiative to allow staff to have their preferred pronouns used in communications, can make all the difference in allowing someone to feel valued as part of a team.
Supporting the LGBTQ+ community is not just a one-off event that comes around for one month every year. It is an ongoing effort that requires commitment, understanding, and above all, action. By actively taking steps to foster an inclusive culture within the workplace, firms can ensure that staff feel comfortable to fully express themselves, feel valued in their contributions and feel empowered in their roles no matter the time of year.
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