Pride month takes place every June. Learn about the history of the month, why it should matter for your business, and how to best celebrate it with your workforce.
Pride month is valuable.
The month of June offers everyone a chance to expand their understanding of the reality that the LGBTQIA+ community still faces disparate, grotesque, and unfair treatment that is rampant in the United States and across the globe. In order to be an advanced and civilized society, we must all learn to stop judging one another based on differences and operate from a place of acceptance and appreciation.
Pride month is intentionally recognized during the month of June to bring specific awareness to the LGBTQIA+ community. But, did you know there’s a reason that June is the month designated to bring attention to Pride month?
The history behind Pride month
“Openness may not completely disarm prejudice, but it’s a good place to start.”
In the 1960s, police standard practice on Friday nights was to raid clubs known for catering to gay patrons. These raids were brutal, often resulting in beatings, injuries, and jail. These raids led to a terrible incident on June 28, 1969, known as the Stonewall uprising.
That night, police targeted the Stonewall Inn in New York City, and something unique happened. When authorities got violent, protesters fought back. It was the beginning of spontaneous protests and demonstrations, making public the need for all from the LGBTQIA+ community to be able to freely live and find acceptance.
“Openness may not completely disarm prejudice, but it’s a good place to start.” – Jason Collins
The year after the Stonewall uprising was the first organized LGBTQIA+ rights parade, and the movement has continued to grow and gain support since that time.
Why does this matter to your business?
As a business leader, you want to make sure that your business is as inclusive as possible — not only for your customer base but also for your team members. By the same token, you want to be sincere in how you approach acknowledging the importance and value of Pride month.
According to surveys, businesses that engage in strong diversity, equity, and inclusion practices as part of their overall culture are:
- More likely to not only meet but surpass their financial goals. When team members feel valued for their contribution and accepted as who they are, surveys have shown that they are more likely to be motivated and more effective.
- Typically more innovative. Organizations that make diversity and inclusion a priority benefit from the value of different thought processes and approaches. These differences often result in developing new and better ways to approach products and processes.
- Often marketplace leaders. Diversity of thought and approach allow different strengths to be embraced, opening up a variety of markets businesses hadn’t previously considered.
The bottom line is that businesses that encourage team members to embrace their true identities and celebrate each others’ differences are more:
“We should indeed keep calm in the face of difference and live our lives in a state of inclusion and wonder at the diversity of humanity.” – George Takei
“We should indeed keep calm in the face of difference and live our lives in a state of inclusion and wonder at the diversity of humanity.”
So, how do you effectively recognize Pride month at work?
This section will provide 5 different suggestions for being more inclusive with your LGBTQIA+ team members and customers.
Before you start down this path, though, you want to be clear that your organization is approaching these activities with sincerity. The last thing you want is for people to misinterpret good intentions as a superficial attempt to commercialize an important memorial event.
If this is your 1st time recognizing Pride month at work
Perhaps you are learning about Pride month and want to acknowledge it for your team members and customers. Consider:
- Hanging a rainbow flag. The flag of choice for recognizing Pride month is a 6-colored rainbow of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet.
- Providing a brief education about the importance of Pride month. Not all people are aware of the Stonewall uprising and that it came about due to such violent and unfair treatment of members of the LGBTQIA+ community. Providing a brief education near where you display the flag would be a worthwhile first step.
To make sure your conviction and commitment to moving forward in support of those in the LGBTQIA+ community is clear, make sure your policies and procedures are inclusive. Use language that makes those who are not heterosexual or cis feel included.
For example, rather than greeting people at a meeting with, “Hi, guys or Ladies and Gentlemen,” a more inclusive approach would be to thank or welcome everyone. For more examples of inclusive language, this glossary will be of assistance.
If you are ready for additional suggestions
There are many ways you can help members of the LGBTQIA+ community feel welcome and accepted.
- Open an invitation to members of the LGBTQIA+ community to create a 30-second video that allows them to introduce themselves, share their preferred pronouns, talk about their job, and provide a quick personal fact.
- Host learning discussion groups where people can safely and openly share their experience of being a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, what they wish was different, and how they feel those changes can be influenced at work.
- Offer an opportunity for team members to participate in various local charities that do work with the LGBTQIA+ community.
As you move forward, you’ll be able to offer these opportunities throughout the year rather than only in June. Doing so will demonstrate your commitment to LGBTQIA+ community inclusion.
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“Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing we’ll ever do.”
As you recognize those who are often marginalized in society, it is also essential to understand that part of the diversity of thought is acknowledging that sexuality and gender are very personal topics that not everyone is comfortable discussing. This may be true for those who are not part of the LGBTQIA+ community but also for some who are.
“Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing we’ll ever do.” – Brené Brown
All activities and participation in your company’s Pride month recognition should be voluntary and not mandatory. Each person is on their own journey of discovery. Participating in Pride month is one facet of that evolution of mindset and growth. As a business leader, you are taking the best approach in making Pride month recognition a priority for your organization, available for participation, and helping all feel accepted and included.