June is the official UK Pride Month each year, and this year is extra special as the UK marks its 50th year of Pride. The month presents a time to celebrate the LGBTQ+ movement’s achievements and accomplishments, and recognise and reflect on the struggle for equality. However, despite the huge progress which has been made, there are still areas in which inclusivity needs to be improved. For example, one study found that a third of LGBTQ+ people avoid careers in science, technology and engineering due to worries of discrimination and bullying – this is a worryingly high statistic. In this article, we look at how we can support LGBTQ+ employees in tech and work to create a more diverse and inclusive environment in the sector.
One thing which is a huge barrier to LGBTQ+ employees feeling safe and comfortable in the workplace is discrimination. Unfortunately, many people still make derogatory jokes, offensive comments and exclude individuals for their different looks, beliefs or identities. As an employer, it’s so important to ensure that any form of discrimination is prohibited and that any complaints are addressed quickly and efficiently. By creating an environment where all employees understand that there is a no-tolerance attitude to this kind of behaviour, you set a precedent for the culture of the organisation.
Ensuring all staff have appropriate training in things like unconscious bias, mental health and wellbeing and diversity will also create a more inclusive and supportive culture for your employees. Many people think of diversity and inclusion as the same thing, but it’s important to note that by being an inclusive employer in turn you are more likely to become more diverse.
A huge part of creating an inclusive workplace culture is ensuring that people feel that they can be their true selves at work. Many people put on an alternative identity at work due to fear of judgement or exclusion. By embracing people’s differences and celebrating them your employees will feel more included and safe. Many companies now include pronouns in email signatures enabling people to ensure they get addressed correctly based on how they identify. This signals a company’s acceptance and respect for someone’s preferred pronouns and will also give off a welcoming vibe for potential candidates and external contacts.
Employee network groups are a great way to make sure your employees feel safe, supported and also surrounded by like-minded peers. Consider asking trusted employees to set up some groups; including one for LGBTQ+ colleagues. It’s important that people don’t feel forced to join them, but having the option there fosters a supportive and inclusive environment for people to work and thrive in.
Just like Pride Month, there are many calendar events every year which celebrate different individuals and their cultures. As a company, by holding events, webinars and making content available you are showing that you are taking part in these celebrations too. For example, many companies celebrate pride month by doing case studies on their employees and holding talks and webinars to educate people.
Creating an inclusive environment is a hugely important step to being a more diverse company, and different people will have different needs to feel included. Pride month is about celebrating the achievements and progress which has been made in the LGBTQ+ community over the last 50 years, but it’s also about raising awareness to ensure more work is done to make discrimination a thing of the past. By taking the steps in this article you can ensure your LGBTQ+ employees feel more supported to thrive in their careers in tech.