Employee Health and Wellness
June 3, 2021
June is Pride Month, a time each year to acknowledge the many contributions of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) community. For employers, Pride Month is an opportunity to reinforce a commitment to building an inclusive workplace and creating policies, practices and programs that are supportive of LGBTQ+ employees and their families.
Implementing a diversity training program is one of the consistent actions organizations can take to promote diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and its positive impact on workplace culture. All employees and managers, at every level, can benefit from diversity training that explores:
- The difference between diversity and inclusion
A diverse workplace has a mix of people with different characteristics, backgrounds, experiences and perspectives. For diversity to be effective, organizations also need to strengthen inclusion. This involves ensuring that individuals from underrepresented or marginalized groups feel valued and respected, and have opportunities to advance and take on leadership responsibilities. A culture of inclusion, openness and belonging benefits everyone.
- Raising awareness of unconscious bias
Being aware that everyone has unconscious bias is the first step in managing how unconscious or implicit bias can influence decisions and interactions. Training provides strategies for recognizing different forms of bias in the workplace and avoiding snap judgments and blind spots that can undermine individual and team performance and lead to discriminatory behavior.
- Preventing discrimination and harassment
During Pride Month 2020, the US Supreme Court ruled that discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation is illegal under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. This landmark decision sent a clear message that LGBTQ+ applicants and employees must be given the same job-related opportunities as other qualified workers.
- Identifying microaggressions
Microaggressions are everyday slights, snubs or insults that communicate hostile or negative messages about someone’s sexual orientation, gender, race or other characteristic or aspect of their personal life. Telling a coworker, “That’s so gay!” or not respecting someone’s preferred pronouns are examples of common microaggressions. Whether intended or not, microaggressions make people who experience them feel judged, misunderstood, unwelcome and unsafe, which can bring on health problems, job burnout and low self-esteem.
- Being an active bystander
Training staff on bystander intervention techniques is one of the most effective ways organizations can empower employees to demonstrate support and allyship for coworkers who are targets of harassment, bullying, microaggressions and other offensive behaviors.
- Increasing cultural competence and humility
The concepts of cultural competency and humility encompass many aspects of an individual’s identity, including their sexual orientation. Cultural competency is the ability to understand and interact effectively with people from other cultures, while cultural humility is the ongoing practice of improving cultural competence through self-reflection and understanding how our cultural biases may influence how we respond to others.
- Managers’ role as DEI champions
By being open and honest in their words and actions — and actively listening to the concerns of employees — managers can be role models for fostering an inclusive workplace. Establishing employee resource groups (ERGs), creating regular opportunities to discuss workplace issues and encouraging employees to report unacceptable behavior are some of the ways managers can map progress and know what’s working and what isn’t.
Pride Month, which takes place every June, is an opportunity to raise awareness and celebrate the contributions of LGBTQ+ individuals. For organizations across industries, Pride Month is a time to highlight actions that support LGBTQ+ employees and ensure that policies, practices, benefits, training and other workplace initiatives address the needs of all employees.
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