How to Be an LGBTQ+ Ally in the Workplace
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Employers have a responsibility to create an inclusive work culture and enact policies and programs that ensure equality and increased quality of life for LGBTQ+ people. However, research shows that in the U.S. roughly half of LGBTQ+ employees remain closeted at work.
Discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community in the workplace takes many forms, some of which include:
Disparities in healthcare and benefits:
LGBTQ+ employees often face disparities in access to healthcare and benefits such as parental leave. Through their work with insurance companies, employers decide which treatments should be covered under their employees’ health insurance plans. Too often treatments LGBTQ+ people may need, such as gender affirming treatments for transgender people, or fertility treatments for people in same-sex relationships, are not accessible through employer health insurance. Additionally, parental leave for non-birthing parents is not always a given. The good news is that more and more companies are expanding their parental leave policies to be more inclusive.
Lack of representation or celebration of LGBTQ+ identities
When there are few LGBTQ+ people at a senior leadership level, it is hard for those in the community to see a runway for success. Even in a non-hostile work environment, a lack of
employee resource groups and opportunities to celebrate and elevate LGBTQ+ employees deters people from bringing their whole selves to work.
An analysis of thirty two studies from several countries found that on average, gay men earned 11% less than heterosexual men, while lesbian women earned 9% more than heterosexual women.*
While many solutions exist to fix these problems, one we can all take on - especially during PRIDE Month - is to be a supportive ally and enable a workplace culture where safe and supportive spaces are created.
*Cited from Wiley's Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society.
Here are some ways to build a more open, accepting culture in your workplaces, homes and beyond. During this Pride Month, Wiley has partnered with PFLAG to host several learning sessions about allyship in the workplace. PFLAG Is the nation's original ally organization created for parents, families and friends of lesbians and gays, with the mission to support, educate and advocate.
Become Visible and Engaged in the Workplace
- Know that allyship Is a verb, meaning It is an action that creates an Inclusive moment for others. Allies want to learn and understand Issues and challenges faced by people who are LGBTQ+. Allies are advocates who are supportive, whether public or private. Allies know there's no "right" way to be an ally.
Break Down Barriers Allies Face in Expressing Support In the Workplace
- We must first ask ourselves, why aren’t more people having real talk abut their allyship at work? Why do some still struggle? Barriers to active allyship are real - there Is a present fear of speaking In the workplace, which Is commonly attributed to not having enough knowledge on the subject, not wanting to offend anyone, and not wanting to feel uncomfortable. However, being able to acknowledge and learn how to move past these barriers Is significant In demonstrating true allyship. It Is up to us to take action to see the change we want to see around us.
Strategies and Tools to Create Inclusion for All
- Spend 5-10 mins on Straight for Equality website (straightforequality.org)
- Attend a virtual PFLAG program hosted In your area (pflag.org/find)
- Connect with local community resources - lgbtcenters.org/LGBTCenters
- Keep Informed about policy and law change and what It can mean for colleagues who are LGBTQ: freedomforallamericans.org/legislative-tracker
- Know that the LGBTQ community has multiple Identities
- Show your support by using Inclusive language, Including pronouns, In your workplace
- Support workplace policies, programs and campaigns that promote Inclusion and equity for all
- Join your company's Pride ERG group as an ALLY
- Challenge If you see microaggressions towards an LGBTQ Member
- Be a powerful ally by putting your assumptions in check, and creating "teaching moments" to educate
- Know how to actively support when coworkers come out
Discover these titles and research articles from Wiley authors and researchers on how to improve allyship for LGBTQ+ communities in the workplace and beyond.
Allies and Advocates: Creating an Inclusive and Equitable Culture
By Amber Cabral
The G Quotient: Why Gay Executives are Excelling as Leaders… And What Every Manager Needs to Know
By Kirk Snyder
Race and Sexuality
By Salvador Vidal-Ortiz, Brandon Andrew Robinson, Cristina Khan
Follow These LGBTQ+ Influencers and Thought Leaders Educating and advocating.
Calvin Stowell, @calvinstowell
Calvin is the Chief Growth Officer at the Trevor Project, a national organization that provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ+ youth.
Graci Harkema, @graciharkema
Graci is passionate about creating a safe and inclusive environment where employees have the opportunity to reach their potential. She remarks that being an LGBTQ+ professional in an open and inclusive work environment and having the support of strong leaders at TEKsystems, have allowed her to live authentically and perform well.
Phillip Picardi, @pfpicardi
Phillip is a journalist and podcast host of Unholier Than Thou. Formerly, Phillip worked at Conde Nast, revolutionizing Teen Vogue's wellness and political coverage, then going on to found Them, the media brand's first LGBTQ+ focused digital platform. Phillip is also the former Editor-in-Chief of Out Magazine.
Wiley Supports and Matches Colleague Donations to the Following Organizations - And More - To Fund the Important Work They Are doing. Follow Them to Learn More and Join Them in Their efforts.
- National Center for Transgender Equality
- Human Rights Campaign Foundation
- OutRight Action International
- LGBTQ Freedom Fund
- National Black Justice Coalition Inc.
- National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance Inc.
- Latino Equity Alliance
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people have experienced a long history of discrimination, including criminalization and classifications as mentally ill, attempts to forcibly change LGBTQ+ people's sexual orientation and/or gender identity, hate crimes and violence, and exclusion from employment, housing, public spaces, and social institutions.
And yet, despite this history relatively few national efforts have been made to systematically study LGBTQ+ people's reported personal experiences of discrimination.
In time for Pride Month, Wiley has released a special edition of RISE – Research in Support of Equity – to share articles that explore LGBTQ+ identities and issues.
Learn more at https://rise.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/