Updated: Dec 9, 2021
Pride month may officially be over, but efforts to improve the lives of LGBTQ+ people can’t be. At We Create Space, we’re committed to driving change for our community 365 days a year. We've come up with eight powerful ways you can practice queer inclusion and advocacy within your own organisation. And how you can confidently activate each of them using our Queer-365 solutions.
Why do we need LGBTQ+ initiatives beyond Pride month anyway?
This year’s Pride has certainly been one of reflection; not just looking at how far we’ve come as a community, but also stark realisations at how far we still have to go as a society. With so many brands also being openly called-out for blatant rainbow washing, it’s more vital than ever for any corporate alignments with the LGBTQ+ community to be backed-up with meaningful initiatives and a long-lasting commitment to change.
According to a recent Stonewall report, only 44% of LGBTQ+ employees believe that their senior management demonstrate a visible commitment to the fight for LGB equality all year round. This lowered to 28% when it came to visible support for the trans community specifically.
So whilst some may be ‘rainbow fatigued’ for another year, how do we keep the conversation around equality alive? How do we continue the momentum and energy of Pride, and keep pushing for more? More inclusivity. More rights. More Queer Leaders in positions of power and influence.
Here are 8 key factors that we believe contribute to fulfilling inclusion, advocacy and allyship goals throughout the year, not just in the month of June...
1. Include LGBTQ+ people in everything - yes, everything!
This is pretty simple - it’s about creating an environment and culture where people feel welcome and as though they belong. Whether it’s being more inclusive with your policies or providing gender-neutral bathrooms, it’s important that people feel seen, heard and catered for.
According to Stonewall, one in six trans people are still not being referred to by their preferred name and pronouns at work. So asking for someone’s pronouns in job interviews, or even adopting the practice of putting pronouns along with your name at the end of emails, is a very small but powerful step towards creating an inclusive space.
Not sure what needs to change? Bring more queer people (especially more queer people of colour) into the conversation by inviting them to contribute and inform key company processes. Why not make a seat available for them at the decision-making table? Queer people not only have unique perspectives and talents, but have proved to be incredible pioneers, leaders and change-makers.
“Share your power. Share your space. And make sure to create a workplace that eliminates barriers. It's very important that everyone, including the LGBTQ+ community, is heard in a room."
Gurchaten Sandhu, Non-discrimination and inclusion specialist and President of UN-GLOBE
WCS Solution: We bring in authoritative guest speakers or curate live Q&A panel discussions covering topics such as Gender Identity and LGBTQ+ Language & Terminology. We also facilitate closed round-table discussions around topics such as change for equality. Get in touch to find out more.
2. Increase awareness of LGBTQ+ issues: in and out of the workplace.
The fight for LGBTQ+ equality is far from over. To be an effective ally or advocate, it’s important to learn about the issues faced by queer people on a daily basis. Learn about the intersectional identities within the community - and the unique challenges that people face when part of multiple minority groups.
Did you know that those who identify as LGBTQ+ are also three times more likely to struggle with their mental health? And substance abuse is a huge problem in the community too - LGBT people are almost three times as likely to have taken drugs in the past year than non-LGBT people. And what about the stigma surrounding HIV that still exists, despite many HIV positive people now being able to live full, happy lives? A key aspect of fostering an inclusive culture is to educate and care about what unique struggles a community is dealing with, and of course to offer help and support where possible.
“As an ally, a leader or simply a member of the LGBTQ+ community, it’s important to show up, but it’s even more important to show up informed.” Rico Jacob Chace, Diversity consultant and LGBTQ+ activist
WCS Solution: We organise educational and informative webinars covering topics such as LGBTQ+ History 101, Body Image, Intersectionality, LGBTQ+ Women in the workplace, LGBTQ+ and HIV and Addiction in the Queer Community. Get in touch to find out more.
3. Attract and retain more LGBTQ+ talent.
Visibility and representation are integral. After all, you cannot be what you cannot see. So when thinking about how to appeal to LGBTQ+ talent, strongly consider how you promote your company values and how they are accessible and inclusive. Communicate how your organisation invests in and supports LGBTQ+ people.
Do you have visible queer leaders? Are you actively encouraging your existing LGBTQ+ employees to share different parts of themselves at work? Are there support networks, resource groups, or mentor schemes in place? Think about your key policies, and how they may reflect an environment that can reassure prospective queer candidates that they’ll feel comfortable and safe. How do your company benefits consider and accommodate the different circumstances faced by LGBTQ+ employees?
In a recent poll by PinkNews and YouGov, only half of employees asked were certain that their employer had LGBT+ inclusive policies. Being open about DNEI goals in your own organization won’t just make your organisation more appealing to outside queer talent, but but it will help foster an environment that feels safe to be open, honest and authentic.
“There is no point making spaces “inclusive” of LGBTQIA+ people of colour if we aren’t able to ensure their safety. Protect gender-diverse people on paper and in your hearts; irrespective of whether they’re visible or not.” Shiva Raichandani, LGBTQ+ Educator and Activist
WCS Solution: We support LGBTQ+ employees with sharing their personal stories and experiences through our series of story-telling workshops and 121 coaching sessions. We also deliver Education & Awareness workshops across numerous topics, that support knowledge and proficiency in LGBTQ+ history, values and queer candidates expectations. Get in touch to find out more.
4. Develop and empower more Queer Leaders.
Queer Leadership for us isn't just about representation, visibility or hierarchy - what's on the outside. It's about looking inside and practicing leadership at every level in a way that enables all of us to thrive - both personally and professionally. Queer Leadership is embracing our unique strengths, prioritising authenticity, listening with compassion, influencing with integrity, transforming our state of awareness, challenging 'the norm' and opening ourselves up to new possibilities as leaders, allies and members of the LGBTQ+ community.
“Like so many other queer leaders, my journey with my identity is always in progress. Even now, as I encounter new experiences or learn about new perspectives, I discover aspects of myself I ever knew existed. It wasn’t until I began intentionally affording myself patience and began accessing new depths of vulnerability that the journey began to feel more authentic and less challenging.” MK Getler, Human Marketing executive and Public Speaker
WCS Solution: We support LGBTQ+ professionals with becoming more impactful and intuitive leaders by enrolling them on our ‘Who am I?’ programme or invest in our Queer Leadership 101 self-empowerment webinar series. Each bespoke session takes participants through a unique process exploring identity and authenticity. With greater clarity of 'self', individuals become more intuitive with their decisions, more courageous as leaders, and more intentional with how they show up to influence and support others. Get in touch to find out more.
5. Respond to the unique wellbeing needs of ALL your LGBTQ+ employees.
Our well-being plays a fundamental part on the path towards reaching our full growth potential in our personal lives and the workplace. The LGBTQ+ community continues to face hardship, inequality and discrimination. And whilst we are incredibly resilient and determined because of it, it’s an uphill battle which inevitably takes its toll on our mental health.
The current mental health epidemic within the LGBTQ+ community specifically demonstrates the distinct lack of relevant and effective long-term preventative well-being solutions available - over half of LGBTQ+ individuals have struggled with mental health issues. To create a supportive inclusive culture, organisations need to respond to the unique well-being and mental health needs of different intersectional LGBTQ+ communities.
“I’ve often hidden parts of my ‘self’ out of fear, shame or rejection. From hiding my sexuality as a child, to as an adult dealing with complex mental health issues in secret. That’s why I created this platform, to create a space for positive change. For all those of us still looking for support, connection and solutions.” Michael Stephens, LGBTQ+ Wellbeing Advocate and Founder of We Create Space
WCS Solution: We provide bespoke programmes that let individuals discover new self-care practices for managing their own mental health and wellbeing. We have a host of topics under a Self Empowerment umbrella including Developing Self-Awareness, Building Resilience and Navigating Change. All of our sessions incorporate some short and simple sequences that slowly start connecting the mind and body. It’s nothing complicated and mainly incorporates elements of breathwork, body scanning and mindfulness. Get in touch to find out more.
6. Educate your business in Queer Allyship and empower fellow "co-disruptors".
A key part of improving allyship is to educate ourselves on the stories we haven’t heard. Make it a point to learn the history of the different communities your business interacts with. Pride is only one month in the queer calendar but other events, like Trans Day of Remembrance, also provide opportunities to educate. Normalise the discussion of stigmatised LGBTQ+ issues and use the safe space to discuss, learn and get curious.
Practicing Queer Allyship requires understanding better the actions, thoughts and beliefs of an LGBTQ+ advocate. It’s certainly not about performative support, but instead more about listening, learning and ensuring you are advocating with integrity - in the workplace and wider communities. With more intentional advocacy you can nurture the phenomenal impact that LGBTQ+ people can have in their work environment.
“Some may call it allyship, but I’m more comfortable with ‘co-disruptors’; disrupting what society says we should and shouldn’t be, and instead showing up fully as who we are.” Chloe Davies, LGBTQ+ Inclusion & Belonging Workplace Consultant
WCS Solution: Our introduction to Queer Allyship training workshop provides a great platform to build on, with many of our other Education & Awareness sessions already dedicated to allies. We can also build custom solutions that cater to specific business objectives. Get in touch to find out more.
7. Inspire other businesses and create authentic partnerships - internally and externally.
Lead by example! Organisations have influence - use it to make bold statements and hold others accountable for their lack of inaction. Don’t contribute to the toxic culture of ‘rainbow-washing’ nor remain silent when others do.
When looking at your relationships with other organisations, be it affiliates, agencies, corporate partners, suppliers or third-parties - think about their core values and inclusion practices. Are they similar to your own? Is diversity as important to them as it is to you? Look beyond any performative action done during Pride month and examine how they work throughout the rest of the year. The shortcomings of others can compromise your position and vicariously undo your own diversity and inclusion commitments.
Investing in business partnerships that are considered and informed is essential. This often comes down to performing due-diligence, choosing only to align and partner with like-minded businesses. Creating a workplace in which LGBTQ+ employees can be their authentic selves and ultimately flourish is enabled through an integrated approach. Consider not only the initiatives, policies and culture of your own business and immediate teams, but also those of your partner organisations. This will ensure that queer employees feel comfortable and safe when interacting or liaising with them. Being this thorough shows you’re really working to spread positive change in the professional community at-large.
“We don't have to wait for a specific month to then start unpacking everything that's going right or wrong… I'd like to see more consistency in this advocacy, really spotlighting and being more curious, looking in our corners and blind spots.” Maylis Djikalou, Programme Director at We Create Space
WCS solution: Our extensive client network provides a wealth of opportunity to connect with organisations and potential partners who are as committed as you are to queer advocacy, wellbeing and empowerment. Our ‘Who am I?’ leadership programmes enable you to introduce your key talent to change-makers from other businesses and organisations who share your values. Get in touch to find out more.
8. Be consistent and invest in long-term solutions.
It’s an especially important time for diversity, equity, and inclusion. Allyship and advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community requires practice everyday. There are no more sidelines, and cheering from the stands doesn’t cut it anymore. We have a duty to be active accomplices in removing any barriers, challenging the status quo, and supporting every individual with reaching their full potential. That often means leaning into discomfort and vulnerability.
Pride offers many businesses an opportunity to develop and improve existing inclusion initiatives, as well as explore and implement new ones. But it is now time to drive that momentum throughout the whole year. That’s why we've introduced Queer 365 - a membership model designed to allow for year-round support organised under one annual, holistic partnership. We provide a package of tried and tested solutions and services across a broad range of topics and themes that can be tailored to the unique and diverse needs of each member company or organization.
“Pride isn’t just a month; it’s 365 days a year. We don’t have to cram everything into a few weeks. Think further ahead, and think more boldly than that.” Tash Thomas, Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion