Since it is pride month in June, we find it extremely important to bring the topic of sexual orientation and gender identity to the table. As female business leaders, we need to ensure we’re aware of the complexity of each queer identity, and learn how to provide comfort to all.
Your LGBTQIA+ employees and colleagues are likelier to have additional stress. Why? Because some of them might have anxiety from showing their true identities due to the the uncertainty of how people may treat them. Or simply because people are already treating them differently. That is why, as an entrepreneurial or intrapreneurial leader, you must speak up, educate and place the necessary policies for protection.
Here are several things you can do to ensure the safety, comfort and inclusion of LGBTQIA+ people at the workplace
- LGBTQIA+ awareness, education and commitment
While some people are very aware of the issues queer people face, others are not at all. In order to be able to succesfully enforce protective policies, you must firstly build empathy and understanding. Actively educating people and then to ensuring that knowledge will be followed by positive action is a first step. Have people commit to providing a safe space for the LGBTQIA+ community in the workplace. Verbally (or in a written form) committing to a cause, usually nudges people to act on their promise because they are likely to want to show that they are “a woman of their word”.
- Incorporating gender-neutral language
This may be a tricky one. If your business is run with mostly English speakers, then replacing “he/she” with “they” is a good first step. However, if you run a business where the main language is not English, gender-neutral use of language may not be possible, since it makes no grammatical sense. Still, you should aim to provide the space for people to let you know how they would like to be referred to, regardless of the language they speak.
If you would like to read more about sensitive language, Harvard made several more suggestions of how you can do that!
- LGBTQIA+ celebrations
The same way we love celebrating women’s day at the office, let’s start a tradition of celebrating LGBTQIA+ history and events! Sometimes, if you’re a cisgender, heterosexual leader, you may not find this to be a priority. Especially if you’re under the impression that no one in your work environment is queer. However, this is an internal bias that heterosexual, cisgender people need to face. In fact, you may not know that your employee or colleague is queer percisely because they do not yet feel comfortable expressing it! Celebrating events and LGBTQIA+ history is the perfect tool to tell your queer collegues and employees that they are in a safe environment!