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Thoughtful ways to celebrate Pride Month in the workplace

Harrison Cook

As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, Pride Month has several meanings to me. I see Pride Month as a celebration of our community by recognizing our historic struggles while still actively planning for a more inclusive and safe future. I see Pride as an educational opportunity for allies to attend programming and resource-sharing events based on equality, equity, and inclusion. Also, as an LGBTQ+ member, I see the importance of feeling safe, valued, and celebrated for my identity on and off the clock. However you choose to celebrate Pride Month at work, it needs to be genuine, authentic, and thoughtful. Check out the history of Pride Month, why it’s important at work, and five Pride Month ideas to celebrate in the workplace! 

What is the history of Pride Month?

Pride takes place in June to commemorate the Stonewall Riots of 1969. The Stonewall Inn is an LGBTQ+ bar that was raided by police due to anti-LGBTQ+ laws criminalizing gay and trans people, which gave police lawful precedent to raid queer spaces. As people started resisting arrest, two transgender women of color, Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, threw items at the police officers, escalating the conflict to a six-day-long riot. Though there were acts of resistance before Stonewall, Stonewall grabbed national headlines and kickstarted the sexual equality movement among lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer people. The following year, a march was organized to memorialize the queer resistance at the Stonewall Inn—and Pride has been celebrated ever since! 

 In 1978, Harvey Milk (the first openly gay elected official in California) asked artist Gilbert Baker to design the original rainbow flag—which debuted at the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade that June. In 2018, the Pride flag received an update by Daniel Quasar, which added the black and brown stripes for racial minorities and the colors of the trans flag (pink, white, and blue). The Progress Pride Flag aims to represent a more inclusive future that celebrates marginalized people.

Why is Pride important in the workplace?

Currently, there are almost 500 anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced in legislation across the U.S. This puts undue stress on the queer members of your team and on the parents of LGBTQ+ youth. By celebrating Pride in the workplace and making self-authenticity a precedent, employers offer an inclusive and safe environment to vulnerable, marginalized members of their workforce. Additionally, while Pride Month may start in June, your company has the chance to champion diversity, equity, and inclusive policies and practices that benefit them throughout the whole year. However you choose to celebrate pride month at work, it needs to be thoughtful and genuine. Anything less will feel demeaning or damaging to your LGBTQ+ teammates. 

Five thoughtful ways to celebrate Pride Month

Some companies have believed that changing the logos on their social media profiles to a rainbow version is enough to support the LGBTQ+ community. This is an example of rainbow capitalism or the pink dollar, in which companies view Pride Month as a trend to profit from versus a celebrated holiday about diversity, equity, and inclusion. Another example of this would be giving your team Pride shout-outs on social media without structural support within your organization. But don’t worry—below are five thoughtful ways to celebrate Pride Month at the workplace!

Evaluate your policies & standards 

The LGBTQ+ members of your team want HR policies and company standards that explicitly protect them. Nothing says you want to foster a safe, inclusive environment for your LGBTQ+ employees more than evaluating your own policies and company standards for areas of inclusion. Make sure your existing company policies have inclusive and updated language and apply to all family structures. A good place to start is by adding your pronouns to your email signature to better acknowledge the gender spectrum and non-binary employees. Additionally, confirm your HR policies include LGBTQ+ wording within them so this population is protected from workplace discrimination and harassment. Once these new inclusive policies are in place, invite open critique from your LGBTQ+ employees to better round out the policies and to see if there are gaps in the protections.

Ask how your company can support LGBTQ+ employees

Either as an open forum or via survey, asking what your company can do better for its LGBTQ+ employees is an easy way to help queer people at your company feel acknowledged and safe. In combination with updating your policies, this provides an open avenue of communication between employee and employer, which shows you truly value and care for the betterment of your team.

Sponsor an inclusion workshop

As a company, you aren’t expected to know everything about the LGBTQ+ community. Additionally, your queer employees shouldn’t be expected to handle the role of HR in providing education. What really matters is that you, as a company and non-queer individuals, are committed to learning more about how you can make the workplace a safe, welcoming, and inclusive space for everyone. You might want to consider hiring an external HR consultant to offer an inclusion workshop for your company. This way, you are handing rather difficult topics off to trained professionals who have direct experience with talking about them in a way everyone can understand, which will speak volumes to your LGBTQ+ employees.

Donate to an LGBTQ+ charity

There is no shortage of LGBTQ+ charities and causes to donate to, so make it your corporate standard to make a yearly donation in the name of your company or on behalf of your employees. Ask your employees about their favorite charities—this can have a lasting impact on team morale, especially among LGBTQ+ teammates. Donating to an LGBTQ+ charity shows that you value your employees while also actively contributing to a cause that can have a real impact outside of the workspace. Plus, this is a great way to celebrate pride month at work virtually.

Here is a list of LGBTQ+ and civil liberty charities to consider donating to!

Celebrate! 

Now that you have a few thoughtful ways to celebrate Pride Month in the workplace, we can finally talk about drag brunch (lol). Check your local event calendars to see if there is a pride parade or LGBTQ+ business night you can take your team to. Your company could even sponsor a float or have its own float in the Pride parade. In the meantime, make a Pride Month playlist with all of your favorite LGBTQ+ artists throughout the ages, which is a great way to engage every age group at your workplace. Continue company education by putting up posters or infographics about LGBTQ+ history or bring in outside speakers to talk about local LGBTQ+ efforts and have it virtually streamed for your remote teams. On a weekend, take your team to a group drag show or drag brunch to see up-and-coming drag queens and kings perform! However you decide to celebrate Pride Month in the workplace, with onsite or offsite events, ensure the focus uplifts the LGBTQ+ community.

While celebrating Pride Month in the workplace shows commitment to fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion, be sure that every team member feels safe and included in the activities. No one should be forced to out themselves or be singled out from the rest of the group. Any Pride workplace activities should focus on building bridges between LGBTQ+ employees and allies with education and community resources.

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