During June, one is hard-pressed to miss the avalanche of marketing flooding our inboxes, social media feeds, and favourite stores. Yet, while we revel in this outpouring of visibility that Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual, and Two-Spirit (LGBTQIA2+) activists and changemakers before us likely only dreamed about, we’re also cautious.
Without a doubt, generating Pride-themed logos, products, and swag does not equate to organizations doing the difficult internal work that makes their workplace safer and more supportive of sexual and gender diversity. Does Pride-themed branding matter if LGBTQIA2+ team members don’t witness themselves reflected in leadership, in how policies or benefits are designed, or the resources and professional development opportunities available?
As many members of the queer community wisely remind us, Pride is a protest. Pride is about championing outsiders and recognizing that no one should be degraded or disadvantaged for who they are or love. Keeping these foundational values of Pride in mind, here are some things you and your organization can do to celebrate Pride during June and year-round.
Pride is not the time to play it safe. Instead, it is the time for thoughtful disruption around how to be more inclusive. For example, rather than defaulting to the standard rainbow flag, consider Philadelphia’s “More Colour, More Pride” flag. You should also consider the “Progress” Pride flag created by Daniel Quasar (they/them), which celebrates the transgender community in addition to racialized members of the LGBTQIA2+ community. These more inclusive incarnations of the flag are increasingly adopted by leading LGBTQIA2+ organizations and thoughtful brands that understand the importance of intersectionality.
Society increasingly expects businesses to be socially responsible and vocalize their values, supporting a sustainable and equitable world. Organizations can embody this significant shift in how they celebrate Pride and affirm the LGBTQIA2+ community year-round. For example, is your organization taking a stance on LGBTQIA2+ inclusive legislation domestically and in other international regions of operation? Is your organization ceasing any donations to political figures that voice anti-LGBTQIA2+ views or vote in favour of these bills? Are you taking advantage of opportunities to volunteer and donation-match for LGBTQIA2+ nonprofits and community organizations? Pride requires us to move beyond symbolism and into tangible action.
We can sometimes fall into the trap of using the entire LGBTQIA2+ acronym yet disproportionately focusing our efforts only on certain strands of the community. Every letter represents an identity. Pay special attention to how you are centring racialized queer people, trans voices, and bi+ experiences in addition to white gay men and lesbian women. Interrogate whether your discussions, events, and educational offerings engage with the breadth of community struggles, including those faced by intersex people, people on the asexual spectrum, or people who identify with non-Western queer identities, such as the North American Indigenous Two-Spirit or South Asian Hijra communities.
Now could be the time to:
2023 has coincided with escalating persecution and harmful legislation targeting the art of drag, the transgender community, and LGBTQIA2+ representation and education in general. These developments require awareness and action.
Notably, the transgender community experiences some of the most stark disparities and disadvantages and is being particularly targeted by laws that will inevitably further inequities and put lives at risk.
We cannot ignore our individual and collective opportunities to challenge rising homophobia, biphobia, sexism, misogyny, and transphobia. Here are some specific action paths for organizations interested in making a positive difference.
Sign a joint statement, publicly share support for inclusive policies and initiatives, and unequivocally denounce hateful and exclusionary actions and decisions, especially those relating to restricting access to gender-affirming medicines, banning the art of drag, and erasing LGBTQIA2+ representation in history and education.
Cease any monetary contributions to political figures that spread harmful ideas about the LGBTQIA2+ community or advocate for hostile or discriminatory legislation.
Design inclusive policies and benefits that help address systemic injustices. Ensure your organization has at least one healthcare plan inclusive of a comprehensive range of gender-affirming therapies, surgeries, and procedures (e.g. counselling, voice training, Hormone Replace Therapy (HRT), bottom surgery, top surgery, permanent hair removal, etc.). Provide relocation benefits for people who want to move away from a jurisdiction that legally restricts gender-affirming care or any other basic human right.
Validate the experiences of transgender, non-binary, genderfluid, and nonconforming people.
Remember that Pride is so much more than rainbows and a party. It’s an opportunity to celebrate and elevate queer lives while tackling the issues affecting the most vulnerable in our community. Let this truth be a guide as you and your organization plan Pride initiatives and continue the journey toward an LGBTQIA2+ inclusive office.
For more important insights around fostering LGBTQIA2+ inclusion across your organization, check out our comprehensive resource:
This blog is not meant to be a static guide, but rather a compilation and reflection of our learnings to date. Everything changes - from technologies and innovations to social norms, cultures, languages, and more. We’ll continue to update this blog with your feedback; email us at email@example.com with suggestions.
Director of Research & Learning
If you wish to reference this work, please use the following citation:
Feminuity. Plummer, M. "Supporting Sexual and Gender Diversity in the Workplace"