This blog post was written by Emily Belke and Nikki Carter
Noticed an influx of rainbows peppering your social media feeds lately? June is LGBTQ+ Pride Month and celebrations have kicked into high gear, with events being held around the world to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community and the impact it has had around the globe.
Though we love a reason to celebrate as much as anyone, we believe it’s also critical to recognize that Pride is much more than what meets the eye — and as a diversity-valuing company, we want to be sure that we’re being respectful and welcoming to all communities, every day of the year.
What it Means to Truly Value Diversity
One of our core values is making sure that employees are able to bring their whole selves to work. When your employees feel like they can be themselves, they’re likely to feel much happier and stay with your company longer. Not only is this the right thing to do, it just makes good business sense.
So, how can you as an individual — or as a leader within your company — take steps to make sure you’re actively valuing diversity? We refer to this as inclusion, and we’ve outlined 11 suggestions below for you to try.
1. Learn More About Pride Month
Now is the perfect time to do your research and learn more about the origins of Pride month: The 1969 Stonewall riots in New York. It’s also a great opportunity to delve deeper into the general history of the LGBTQ+ community. If you’re just starting to become familiar with this community, learn more about language surrounding gender and sexuality here and here.
2. Make Pronouns a Priority
Have you ever received an email with a signature containing a person’s pronouns? Pronouns are important and using them properly conveys respect for those you’re working with. Including your own pronouns in introductions, on your LinkedIn, or in your email signature is a way to normalize this practice and provide clarity as to how you want others to address you.
When you’re interacting with folks in person, don’t be afraid to ask them for their pronouns to be sure you’re addressing them correctly — just be sure you aren’t only asking those who don’t look like you.
3. Consider Your Language
Language matters, and you should make sure that the way you speak is inclusive of everyone. Using phrases like, “Good morning, ladies!” or, “As God-fearing Americans…” assumes that everyone in your audience feels the same way as you or hails from a specific subset.
Work to address the ways in which you may be unconsciously excluding people with your language. Also worth considering: There are words like “hysterical” that carry negative connotations; historically, language like this has been used to discredit and oppress certain marginalized groups. Educate yourself on these words, and use more descriptive and accurate language instead. For example, “She was hurt by the comments made at the meeting,” is preferable to, “She was so hysterical this morning.”
4. Consider Your Unconscious Biases
Unconscious biases can affect everything from the hiring decisions you make to the people you choose to be on a certain team. However, if they’re unconscious, how can we uncover them? Try using Harvard’s Project Implicit to reveal any unconscious biases you may have and learn to recognize when those biases may be affecting the way you react to situations or treat other people.
5. Create a “Mistake” Jar at Work
Do you know anyone with a “swear jar” or a “gratitude jar”? Try creating a “mistake” jar and hold yourself accountable. Every time you catch yourself falling into a non-inclusive pattern or straying from the behavior you want to exemplify, add a dollar to the jar. Consider donating all of the funds to a non-profit that helps address inequality and injustice, like Black Lives Matter or the National Center for Transgender Equality.
It’s important to remember everyone is constantly learning and not beat yourself up about mistakes. If a mistake is made, you should take steps to address it, outline how you’ll do better next time, and then move forward.
6. Diversify Your Content Consumption
If your social media following exclusively consists of people who look and think just like you, you’re living in an echo chamber. Seeking out accounts run by people of different backgrounds, and who believe different things than you, can help you see the world through a new lens. Likewise, adding new authors of diverse backgrounds to your reading list can help you develop an awareness of other life experiences.
While donating money is an incredible way to help causes you care about, what about physically getting out there and giving your time, too? Volunteering is one of our favorite ways to give back, and we’ve made it part of our company practice to allow our employees to do so on company time.
Volunteering is a great way to meet new people from all walks of life, hone new skills, and be exposed to things that you’re unfamiliar with. To find a cause you’re interested in, click here.
If You Are a Leader or Manager:
8. Use Slack to Suggest Inclusive Alternatives
As a Slack administrator, you can program your Slackbot to automatically suggest more inclusive language choices. To do so, click Customize Slack and go to the Slackbot, where you will see boxes for When someone says and Slackbot responds with.
You can separate multiple phrases with a comma to group common words together; for example, you could enter “guys, dudes, ladies and gents, gents, girls” into the When someone says box and then program Slackbot responds with to “How about something more inclusive? Try using ‘folks’ instead!”
Take care to make thoughtful choices here, and be selective. Try not to add in phrases or words that are commonly used as a part of everyday language so your employees don’t get frustrated with the amount of Slackbot suggestions.
9. Form an Inclusive Focused Events Committee
Start an events committee that’s open to all employees, and then put them in charge of working collaboratively on company events. This will help ensure that different voices have a place at the table and that fewer perspectives are overlooked when planning.
In general, when you’re planning events, you want to consider religious holidays that include fasting and avoid scheduling events on those days. You should also think about dietary restrictions when you’re planning a menu. Lastly, consider your sober employees and try to plan more than just happy hour events for employees to connect outside of work.
10. Create a Mentorship Program
At RelationEdge, we created a mentorship program called R-Eager as a way to keep our remote and distributed workforce connected. Fostering relationships in this way has the benefit of making employees feel more comfortable and supported speaking up, and also allows people to understand each other in a way they might not have otherwise. Mentors can help advocate for their mentee, especially when the mentee is a member of disenfranchised groups.
Overall, employees with mentors are 62% more likely to succeed. Could you create a similar program to bring employees together across departments, regions, or different age groups/other demographics?
11. Review Job Descriptions
Go over your job descriptions and the requirements you’ve outlined for each position. Again, look at your language. Are you unintentionally gearing your job listings toward one type of person? For example, studies have shown that words like “ninja” tend to deter women and minorities from applying for positions.
Remember that numerous restrictive requirements limit your applicant pool. If you’re requiring a Masters degree in a specific field, is that truly what’s required for this position? Many companies have made waves in recent years by doing away with their college education requirements. Are there any comparable experiences or achievements that would make a candidate just as qualified for a role with your company?
Change is difficult, and it doesn’t happen overnight. But if you truly want to work toward inclusivity in your organization, taking just one of these steps today is a step in the right direction. We’d love to hear what you do to foster inclusivity in your organization and how you’re celebrating Pride month!