June marks LGBTQ+ Pride Month in the United States to commemorate the Stonewall Riots in 1969. Like many companies, Avatria has a Diversity and Inclusion group that has prepared programming that is aimed at promoting awareness of LGBTQ+ issues. We want to promote awareness of LGBTQ+ issues because we want to foster a workplace that is safe and inviting for people of all backgrounds.
While we certainly don’t claim our initiatives as unique (nor enough on their own to end discrimination against LGBTQ+ people in America and around the globe), we wanted to share some of the things that we’re doing this month in hopes that our transparency will add to the groundswell around Pride Month and encourage other businesses in and out of our industry to do similar things.
How to be an Ally
Allyship is an important concept for corporate diversity programs, as it aims to build empathy amongst the entire company for a population or cause that not everyone necessarily belongs to or identifies with. At Avatria we are constantly in search of ways to promote inclusion and this year for Pride Month we have put together a How to be an Ally guide that covers a number of topics:
How to be a good listener – While listening may seem like a relatively elementary topic to cover, effectively listening to and understanding the experiences of others is an incredibly important element of allyship that obviously transcends LGBTQ+ issues and is broadly applicable across a professional environment.
Self education – Companies can and should provide some educational resources for employees, but it is also important for individuals to take responsibility for educating themselves on LGBTQ+ issues, such as terminology and pronouns, LGBTQ+ history, current struggles of the community, and more.
Inclusive language – The way in which we talk about LGBTQ+ issues is incredibly important, and using inclusive language is a foundational component of creating a safe and inclusive environment. Inclusive language seeks to be respectful of the entire spectrum of gender identity and sexuality by avoiding assumptions and generalities, especially surrounding sexual preferences, family structures, and pronouns.
How to be an active bystander – Despite an increase in awareness of LGBTQ+ issues over the last decade, there are still many unfortunate cases of discrimination that effect the community. Educating allies on how to be an active bystander can help diffuse tense and discriminatory situations, which makes it valuable for our employees be armed with an approach to supporting LGBTQ+ people in these cases.
Making mistakes – Mistakes will be made even by the best-intentioned of allies, which makes it important to develop the ability to recognize your own errors and work on correcting them.
Beyond our How to be an Ally initiative, we’re doing a few other things for Pride Month:
LGBTQ+ Trivia – We have a lot of trivia fans at Avatria, and we have hosted remote trivia regularly throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Each day for a week the teams receive a set of questions that they work on throughout the day. We’ve hosted themed trivia on topics like music and Black History Month over the last year, and will host another focused on LGBTQ+ history and individuals this month. It’s a great way to learn more about LGBTQ+ issues in a fun (and competitive) environment.
Recommended Movies/Entertainment – It has become increasingly clear that the representation of minority groups in popular culture matters, and our Diversity & Inclusion group has prepared a list of movies, TV shows, and other entertainment created by LGBTQ+ artists and that tell the stories of the LGBTQ+ community.
Volunteering opportunities – For employees who are interested in volunteering for LGBTQ+ causes, we have prepared a list of options for remote and in-person volunteering opportunities. This also gives employees the opportunity to take advantage of Avatria’s Volunteering benefit that allows employees to take 2 paid days per year to volunteer in the community.
The initiatives outlined above are just a drop in the bucket, and we’re just getting started, but we hope that we’re a part of a changing tide when it comes to LGBTQ+ acceptance in the workplace. We’re also interested in hearing what your company is doing, so feel free to share with us on Twitter or LinkedIn!