What Leaders Can Do Now to Become an LGBTQ+ Ally
- June 01, 2022
June kicks off Pride Month and, by most accounts, a full year of the Great Resignation (or Great Reshuffling or Great Reinvention, take your pick). What do these things have in common? Both are potent reminders to respect, understand, and be a better leader for all of your team. Let me explain:
Pride Month is a month-long observance in celebration of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) people—and the history, culture, and contributions of these people and their communities. People in the LGBTQ+ community continue to experience discrimination for their identities, with 46% saying they remain closeted at work. If they don’t feel respected, these valuable team members are likely to be among the 44% of workers who are active or soon-to-be job seekers today.
Diverse companies have been shown to outperform their competitors, capture new markets and make better decisions. LGBTQ+ members of your team bring diverse experiences and the great skills for which you hired them. What are you waiting for? Let Pride Month inspire you to show the LGBTQ+ members of your team that you have their back by being an active ally.
Steps to allyship for leaders:
Listen. Like most first steps, this is the hardest, especially for all of us humans who like to share our views. Set aside preconceived ideas and engage with empathy in hearing others’ human experiences. This is the foundation of being a good ally (and a good human). But, it can’t come without step two:
Be there. Our world is increasing in diversity and polarization. Fight this trend by finding ways to engage with the LGBTQ+ community so you can listen to their experiences. Don’t know where to start? Reach out to colleagues you know who are active and ask what you can do.
Appreciate differences. This is the fun part. As you get to know people in the LGBTQ+ community, stereotypes will give way to real connections. As you encourage people to bring their whole selves to work, you reap the benefits of their ideas and inspire others. As your team looks more like the community and world at large, your ability to connect with your customers multiplies.
Stand up for diversity. A shocking 53% of LGBTQ+ workers report hearing jokes about lesbian or gay people at work. Use your power as a leader to set an inclusive tone and speak up if you hear discriminatory comments. The larger your team, the larger the diversity and the imperative.
As a senior leader of a global team, I accept the challenge and responsibility to be a strong ally for all members of my team. As a father, it’s more personal. When my teenage son enters the workforce, I want him to find a world that respects his full identity. I see his strengths and incredible gifts, and I want to fight for a world that sees that too.