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Pride in the workplace

June is Pride month. This is a time for the LGBTQ+ community to celebrate. As well as being a month long celebration, Pride month is also an opportunity to peacefully protest and raise awareness of the issues faced by the community. With this in mind, we turn to the question of how inclusive the workplace is? Many employees still choose not to disclose their sexuality/gender at work. This can be for various reasons including fear of discrimination, exclusion, being passed over for promotions and job interviews.

Jake Daniels recently made the headlines when he bravely came out as the first openly gay men’s professional footballer in Britain who is currently playing and the first to come out in over 30 years. Jake is 17 years old and plays professional football for Blackpool FC. He sent a message through Blackpool FC and explained that he had received the best support and advice from his family, the football club, his agent and also Stonewall. He explained that he had also confided in his teammates at the youth team and that everyone had embraced the news and supported his decision to open up and tell people.

It is often the case that people feel inspired by other people’s ability to be open and honest about who they are and it may be the case that Jake’s decision could encourage others to also be more open. It is important that employers consider whether their workplace is truly inclusive and what support can be put in place. There are a variety of different ways that employers can make the workplace more inclusive; here are some initial ideas:

Provide a safe space for employees

Many employers see the benefit of shared working but often overlook the benefits of shared working environments. This has become more difficult over recent years with the growing preference of home or hybrid working. There are still ways that safe spaces can be created. For example, if a company is based in an office what toilet facilities are available? Only having the option of male or female could leave some employees feeling uncomfortable. Whilst it is often the case that this is not the intention, employers need to ensure that they are being proactive and considering alternative options. This could include having unisex toilet facilities.

It is also important to ensure that employees are engaging with one another, this could be as simple as creating a breakout room where employees can sit together for their break times or work together on projects. This could also be done remotely through video meetings on teams and zoom. Staying connected and maintaining relationships even where everyone is not under one roof can be key to inclusivity in the workplace.

Collect and utilise employee feedback

When was the last time you, as an employer, really asked your employees what they thought? What ideas they had? What could be better? One of the best ways to promote inclusivity is to be inclusive throughout any and all processes. When there are decisions to be made whether that be about office space, working arrangements or recruitment, invite employees to share their view with you.

This could be through a company survey, discussions or even focus groups. You should also consider whether there is a way for employees to engage in these activities anonymously if they do not feel comfortable speaking openly. Whilst the main aim of an inclusive workplace is to enable employees to speak freely and comfortably, it is important to acknowledge that this is a process and that to truly be an inclusive workplace takes time. As such giving employees a voice at all stages of the process is important.

It is also often the case that employers take the time to conduct surveys or obtain feedback but then nothing happens. This is valuable information, make sure you use it to make changes!

Pride flag Photo by Sharon McCutcheon: