Being inclusive is a win-win no matter how you slice it. It’s good for society, and it’s also good for business. That’s because innovation requires an openness to new ideas, a culture of curiosity, and a climate free from shame and stigma.
June is Pride Month for the LGBTQ+ community. It’s a time to celebrate what makes everyone unique and raise awareness about the ongoing struggle for acceptance and equality. It’s important that we recognize the valuable contributions of the LGBTQ+ community in our industry, community, and workplace, and make our businesses a place where everyone can excel.
So how do organizations make the leap from talking the talk about being LGBTQ+ friendly to walking the walk? Here’s how to get started:
Get the Boss to Buy In
First things first: Get someone from the senior leadership on board. They don’t have to do much work, but their support drives home the priority of fostering an LGBTQ+ inclusive culture. Leadership can also approve the time and resources for initiatives. Plus, with their high visibility and influence, they can help promote events and programs and even offer recognition for attendees.
Determine Your Approach and Build Your Team
Is this a grassroots plan led by LGBTQ+ employees? Or is this an HR-sponsored diversity initiative? There are benefits to both.
With a grass-roots approach, the primary focus will be on education, learning, and building community. You’ll want at least two volunteers committed to running the program. Accountability goes up when there’s more than one person leading the charge.
For an HR-sponsored initiative, there will be the added benefit of creating company policies and process, including an anti-discrimination policy and a process on how to report incidents, for example. The good news is, your HR team can help steward the process.
Create an Education Program
Building community and allyship in the workplace through education takes effort, but there are resources out there to make it easier.
Check out Safe Space training by CampusPride. They offer a 2-hour course that covers:
- Historical moments in the LGBTQ civil rights movement
- The difference between sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression
- Common terminology
- How to be an advocate and ally
Make Time for Open Conversation
Start with an icebreaker. Or maybe even two! It will help people become more comfortable and make your conversations more productive. For more intimate discussions, try using breakout groups. Put together scenarios for people to talk through — the hands-on practice is invaluable.
You’ll also want to have talking points about how your company already supports the LGBTQ+ community. This session is educational, but it should also create a positive connection between the company and the LGBTQ+ community.
Limit Attendees and Create a Safe Space for Questions
A general rule of thumb is to have no more than 20 people in each session. At the beginning, cover the ground rules – confidentiality, telling your own story, asking questions. The events should not be recorded in order to provide a safe space for questions. It’s also good to acknowledge upfront that no one person has all the answers.
Structure the Training in a Repeatable Format, Gather Feedback, and Iterate
At SalesLoft, we send out a feedback form and gather results after each session. We’ve made tweaks after each one — changing the order of content, adding additional content, and splitting the program into two 1-hour sessions versus one 2-hour session, for example.
Diversity and Inclusion for the Win
Companies that strive for diversity and inclusion have clear competitive advantages. (It’s true! You can Google it!)