June is Pride Month. It’s a time when we celebrate the progress the LGBTQ+ community has made and reflect on the work that still needs to be done to make every corner of our society more inclusive and LGBTQ+ friendly. The workplace is one of the most important areas to ensure that inclusivity is approached with mindfulness, but it can be a daunting initiative to begin. At IC, we are proud that we practice what we preach. On our own intranet, we have a regularly updated document that highlights some suggestions staff can keep in mind to ensure the workplace feels welcome for all. As this week is the start of Pride Month, we thought it would be great to share some of these suggestions, not only to provide some inspiration, but also to get inspiration from you on social media!
Share with us how your internal comms plan promotes inclusivity in the workplace with the hashtag “#InternalCommsPride” on LinkedIn or Twitter.
1. Ensure that employees have the option to list their pronouns
Whether in email signatures, as part of their staff profile on your intranet, or wherever your employee directory lives, making room for employees to share their pronouns is an easy way to ensure that everyone gets a chance to share how they would like to be referred to.
This is especially important if an employee is external facing. For example, by giving those in Sales, Customer Service, or Technical Support the opportunity to share their pronouns, it allows external stakeholders to refer to them in a way that makes them feel confident while at work.
2. Use gender-neutral terminology
When in doubt, be neutral. If you’re not 100% sure about someone’s orientation, gender identity, etc., try not to assume that they identify within the binary. If someone mentions their “spouse” or “partner”, don’t use a pronoun that you assume would be correct. Stick to “they” or “them” or “theirs”. And yes, the singular “they” is absolutely grammatically correct, and you’ve probably been using it all your life without realizing it (“oh no, someone lost their phone, maybe if we give it to lost and found, they can help get it back to them”).
Furthermore, when asking or discussing your co-workers’ dating lives (and ask yourself, if you even should be), avoid binary terms like “girlfriend” or “boyfriend”, instead stick to neutral terms like “partner” or “date”.
3. Share resources on your company intranet
Provide resources on your intranet for people to learn about different orientations and gender identities and clearly label it. You may even want to weave these into your onboarding documentation, to make sure everyone is on the very same page from the get-go.
Your intranet isn’t just a place for document management and company news, it is a knowledge center, designed to make everyone’s life at work simple—and that includes using it to help build a LGBTQ+ friendly workspace.
4. Know when and what to ask
Obviously, asking questions when you are unsure is great, but realize that not everyone is comfortable with talking openly about their identity or orientation. Part of being a good ally is self-educating, as it lessens the burden on your LGBTQ+ coworkers. Gender identity and sexual orientation can be very private for some, and there is no good in pushing people to open up to you under the guise of “acceptance”. At the end of the day, you want to create space for optional sharing, not mandated sharing. Some people may not want to share their pronouns or their sexual orientation with their work colleagues–and that’s totally okay! You shouldn’t push and they don’t owe you an explanation on why they would rather not share.
5. Finally, be open to change
Things change! This Pride Month, it’s important to look back and appreciate how far we’ve collectively come since the first stone that was thrown at intranet 53 years ago this June. And things will continue to change, we hope for the better. This decade, so far, has not been the brightest for the LGBTQ+ community, with many new legislations that have silenced discussion of our community. But change starts at home, at the workplace, and in our everyday lives. We hope that our blog today will inspire you to think about those changes and how they can affect everyone in your lives.