LGBTQ2S+, more than just letters

What is Pride Month? Pride Month, celebrated each year in June, was initially not a celebration. It was inspired by the Stonewall Uprising in June of 1969 where protestors rallied against the harassment and prosecution they had faced by police. And the 1969 Uprising sparked “Canada’s own Stonewall” in 1981. During that time, amid a police raid called “Operation Soap”, hundreds of LGBTQ2S+folks took to the streets demanding for their civil rights and freedoms.

Today, Pride is seen as a dedicated time to recognize champions of the Lesbian, Gay. Bisexual, Transgender and Queer community and movement – commonly referred to as LGBTQ2S+ worldwide. (The ‘+’ sign represents anyone in the community who does not fit under these definitions, because Pride is fundamentally about being accepted for who you are.)

It’s also a time for celebration of LGBTQ2S+ people across the world and in the workplace.  

Why Celebrate Pride at Work?

Whether the workplace is remote, onsite or a mix of both, celebrating Pride is an important way to promote awareness of equality and inclusivity at work – and glean a better understanding of the issues LGBTQ2S+ communities currently face.

But while publicly supporting Pride Month is valued, it can ring hollow when such actions are incongruent with your company culture. In fact, according to a recent study commissioned by Telus, one-third of Canadians don’t see their workplace as LGBTQ2S+ inclusive.1 This means that there is still work to be done to ensure LGBTQ+ folks feel supported and safe in the workplace year-round.

Ways to Ensure Your Workplace is LGBTQ2S+ Inclusive

Read on for a few suggestions on how to celebrate Pride and champion LGBTQ2S+ employees in the workplace throughout the year.

  • Focus on Culture not Performative Activism
    More than 50 percent of LGBTQ2S+ employees aren’t comfortable being out at work.2 So, the first step to celebrating Pride in the workplace is to foster a diverse, equitable and inclusive work environment. As an HR professional, ask yourself whether your employees feel safe being themselves in the workplace. Is this reflected in your company’s mission, vision and values? Because your inclusive culture should be obvious to employees, stakeholders and job candidates too. 

    Pride Month is also a great time to assess your policies. Work to ensure policies protect and respect LGBTQ2S+ staff. Some examples include offering gender-neutral bathrooms, updating health benefits to cover gender-affirming care, and implementing and enforcing anti-discrimination policies.

    Learn more about creating an inclusive work culture in our Diversity and Inclusion Certificate Program.
  • Start an IDEA Committee
    If your organization doesn’t have an inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility committee, now would be a great time to start one. An IDEA committee can play a powerful role in supporting your efforts to advance EDI in the workplace. Working with HR, they can help amplify the voices of equity-deserving groups including those from the LGBTQ2S+ community through staff activities and internal awareness campaigns.
  • Pronouns Matter
    Encourage employees to share their pronouns, preferred names and pronunciations. This can ensure people within your organization feel respected and seen. 
  • Recognize Pride Month
    Show your support for Pride Month with the colourful Pride flag. But don’t stop there. Why not give back to LGBTQ2S+ communities year-round? Or get outside the office with other employees and attend a local Pride event. This is a great way to strengthen camaraderie during Pride Month among employees. If gathering in person is not possible, perhaps gather virtually for a Pride-themed online mixer. Dial up the fun with Pride trivia games and/or bingo.
  • Get Educated
    The more you and your company know about LGBTQ2S+ communities and the current issues individuals and employees in this group are facing, the better you’ll be as an ally. Look at hosting an inclusion workshop or offering training to employees. Consider inviting subject matter experts (not just during Pride Month but throughout the year) to speak about queer history, how to be inclusive, and language guidance, for example. Helping your employees by giving them access to education and resources can eliminate the barriers that hinder diversity and inclusion at work and prevent LGBTQ2S+ employees from being their authentic selves in the workplace.

[1] One-third of Canadians don’t see their work as LGBTQ2+ inclusive: study
[2] Pride at Work Canada Study 2022