June is nationally recognized as Pride Month in Canada, and in many other places around the world, though some cities continue to celebrate and hold events throughout the summer. In 2005 Canada became the fourth country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide with the Civil Marriage Act. In 2016 Justin Trudeau became the first sitting Prime Minister to march in the Toronto Pride Parade, and that same year June was officially declared Pride Month in Canada. Though we’ve come a long way, we still have a lot of work to do to ensure everyone is treated equally at work and in life. Pride Month gives your organization a reason to focus on workplace diversity and improve your workplace for everyone.
1. start a diversity and inclusion committee
If you don’t already have a group that focuses on inclusion and diversity initiatives at your workplace, Pride Month is a great time to create one. Though diversity and inclusion aren’t solely a LGBTQ issue, they’re a part of it. As we’ve discussed in the past, a diverse and inclusive workplace is a more successful, productive and innovative workplace, so focusing on inclusivity is more than just a social issue, it’s also a business one. Some of the issues a diversity and inclusion panel might tackle include: promoting a healthy and inclusive workplace culture, assessing hiring practices to ensure jobs are accessible to people from all walks of life, communication and awareness initiatives, organizing events and assessing and adjusting work policies to ensure they’re inclusive.
2. give back to the local community
If your company has a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policy, you probably already focus on volunteering and giving back to your local community. For Pride Month, why not turn your CSR initiatives to LGBTQ issues and encourage employees to support charities that benefit your local community directly? Whether you organize a fundraiser to support a LGBTQ charity financially, or donate time and energy is up to you. You could screen an LGBTQ movie and donate proceeds from tickets and snacks to a local charity. Or maybe you’d prefer to give employees an afternoon off to donate their time to a local youth centre that focuses on LGBTQ issues. Whatever you decide to do, you can be sure your efforts will make a difference.
3. hand out LGBTQ pride swag
You might be wondering, ‘how does giving out free stuff to employees make a meaningful difference?’ The most important reason is that it increases visibility. Visibility for any cause leads to greater acceptance, understanding and support. People tend to be afraid of the unknown. So make your support clear and public. An added bonus: if your employees are all sporting pride swag, your company will be viewed as a supportive, inclusive place to work and do business with, and that can only be a good thing. So feel free to print off some pride T-shirts, stickers or flags, or whatever else strikes your fancy and hand them out to employees.
4. make counselling and support services available
Employees that are part of the LGBTQ community or other marginalized groups tend to have higher rates of mental health issues, and are subject to more hate and harassment than the general population. Having a place where all employees can turn to if they want to talk or receive support can be lifesaving. Though counselling and support services should be available all year, Pride Month is a great time to assess your company’s policies and build the infrastructure and support systems that are needed. Though Pride Month draws attention to LGBTQ issues, counseling and support services benefit everyone. All your employees regardless of sexual orientation, gender, or race will benefit from having services that they can turn to for support in times of crisis.
5. take part in a pride event or parade
Pride events occur in just about every major city in Canada and have become larger and more expansive with hundreds of corporations taking part. Toronto’s pride parade is the largest and best known in Canada, drawing in hundreds of thousands of spectators and participants each year. Businesses are making their support known by joining in the celebrations. The 2018 pride parade in Toronto is sponsored by business giants including TD Bank, Bud Light, OLG, Fido, Loblaw’s, Pfizer, Stoli, Mercedes, Crest and several others. And even more will march in the parade or otherwise support the event. Why not join in or encourage employees to participate and represent your organization?
6. adopt a year-round approach
Pride Month is a great time to shine a spotlight on LGBTQ issues, but your approach should recognize the fact that the issues the community faces don’t go away after Pride Month is over. Make it a priority to take action and create policies that address diversity and inclusion all year long. Though Pride Month may be the impetus you need to get started on an action plan, make sure any steps you take fit into your larger corporate plan and don’t disappear after Pride Month is over. Perhaps that means creating a diversity committee that addresses issues year-round, permanently changing your policies, or bringing in new resources to support minority groups all year long.
What does your company do to celebrate Pride Month at work? We’d love to hear your stories on social media. We’ll be sharing some of our own stories and photos on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram throughout Pride Month. Be sure to check them out!