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Pausing for Pride: Do Your Diversity & Inclusion Policies Stack Up?

Pausing for Pride: Do Your Diversity & Inclusion Policies Stack Up?
Posted on Monday, June 24, 2019 by Marcy Klipfel

As June arrives each year, the world becomes enveloped in rainbows. Pride month is here again!  


Many organizations looking to signal their support of the LGBTQ+ community may rely on rainbow logos or Pride flags, but these symbolic gestures fall flat without real policies behind them. In fact, a number of brands and organizations have come under fire recently for a lack of understanding in their Pride branding and programming. But it doesn’t have to be this way.  

Diversity & inclusion (D&I) programs are the empathetic organization’s answer to this common pitfall, as they are designed to both increase the representation of LGBTQ+ employees in the workplace and ensure that all employees’ unique perspectives are heard and reflected in employer policies. Each Pride month, human resources professionals in particular have the powerful opportunity to shape their organization’s D&I efforts to reflect support of LGBTQ+ employees.  

Here are tips on how to make sure your organization is on the right path this Pride month.  

Use the history of Pride month as your guide.

It’s worth noting that Pride month itself began through the struggle of diverse LGBTQ+ individuals to protect their safety and have their voices heard. Supporting this goal should be the guiding light for an empathetic organization during Pride month. After all, embracing diversity matters to all employees and impacts everyone in the workplace, regardless of their identity. As our 2019 State of Workplace Empathy study illustrated, 87% of all employees agree D&I programs help demonstrate a company is empathetic. 

Use inclusive nomenclature.

As the keepers of employee data, HR departments can serve as the front line for limiting discrimination in how we refer to employees using titles and pronouns. You might consider eliminating titles such as Mr. and Ms. before names to avoid excluding those employees who don’t use gender-based titles. Offering gender-neutral pronouns such as “they” and “their” is considered acceptable on official documents, meaning you can introduce them on everything from formal paperwork to casual employee surveys. Our latest study found that only 76% of employees believe there is true belonging at their workplace—referring to each other respectfully can be a great start toward getting that number to 100%.

Have an open-door policy.

Discussing employee experiences in person is one of the most powerful ways to show empathy to all employees. Our 2019 State of Workplace Empathy study found that 95% of employees consider face-to-face conversations to be the most empathetic communication channel. Being clear that your organization values an open-door policy year-round can create a safe environment for LGBTQ+ employees to express their needs and concerns in the workplace, as well as create a transparent environment for all employees.

Explore the range of your benefits.

In our latest study, 85% of employees report that D&I strategies implemented by leadership result in empathy. Benefits are a meaningful place to invest to demonstrate that you support all employees, of all life experiences and at all life stages. Does your organization offer a robust variety of health plans, including both physical and mental health support, as well as financial well-being benefits? Pride month can be a good moment to review your benefits offering to ensure it meets a broad range of employee needs.  

Revisit your sexual harassment and anti-bias trainings.

If your HR department offers training programs that are limited to any one kind of workplace experience, you may be missing out on the nuanced ways in which LGBTQ+ workers experience discrimination differently than other groups. Even in an increasingly open society, 53% of LGBTQ+ workers report hearing jokes about lesbian or gay people at least once in a while, and the top reason they do not report these comments is for fear that nothing will be done. HR departments can work to stop this type of workplace culture through employee education and support.

Want to learn more about how you can increase mental well-being in your workplace? Read our white paper below.