June is Pride Month in Canada and this year, the Vancouver Pride Society’s slogan is #ChooseYourPride. This is, in part, due to ongoing restrictions/inability to gather in parks and clubs, but also to reflect the diversity in how the LGBTQ2+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Two Spirit) community prefers to celebrate and honour their pride. Pride Month provides an opportunity for all Canadians, whether LGBTQ2+ or not, to reflect upon and celebrate the diversity of ourselves, our friends, our families, our colleagues, our leaders, our neighbours, and our acquaintances. It’s also about reflecting on the progress made, celebrating those who’ve paved the way, as well as raising awareness, joining forces with allies, and fostering equality and inclusivity.

Pride initially began following the Stonewall Uprising (New York City; June 28, 1969) which occurred as a result of ongoing police raids and harassment of the queer community. On Stonewall’s one year anniversary, the first official Pride Parade began in New York’s Greenwich Village. In 1971, it spread to many cities across the United States, and globally.

Some of the many efforts and issues that Pride has helped raise awareness of include: equity, anti-discrimination, anti-hate, right to marry/have families, equity in the workplace, and overall equality as human beings.

Pride and Diversity in the Workplace

According to Pride at Work Canada, between 5 – 12% of Canadians identify as LGBTQ2+, face significant barriers to employment and career advancement opportunities, and perhaps as a result, are over-represented (25%) among our homeless population. Accordingly, in a study conducted by the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion, 30% of LGBTQ2+ employees indicated having experienced discrimination at work. Further, despite the vast majority (89%) of trans people having some post-secondary education, around half make $30k/year or less. The reasons for this are multi-faceted and intersectional, and include stigma, lack of support networks, stereotypes/bias, and discrimination.

In addition to supporting the LGBTQ2+ community to reach their potentials, more diverse workplaces promote a vaster pool of talent, skills, ideas, and perspectives. This in turn leads to greater levels of innovation, creativity, morale, productivity, commitment, and overall retention – which ultimately benefits employees, business, reputation, and clients.

To both support the LGBTQ2+ community and build a more diverse and inclusive workplace, employers can:

  • Ensure hiring practices focus on overall equity, inclusion, and diversity
  • Develop and actively communicate policies and procedures that promote inclusion and diversity, and specifically address sexual and gender equality
  • Use non-binary language (i.e. they, rather than he/she) in job postings and HR materials and be aware of/sensitive to binary language in conversation with employees/colleagues (e.g. referring to a person’s unknown significant other as “partner” instead of assuming husband or wife)
  • Understand and invite (but don’t expect) use of pronouns (e.g. they/them; he/his) on email signatures and Zoom screen-names
  • Proactively target Gen Z candidates, many of whom identify as LGBTQ2+
  • Encourage conversation and create safe spaces
  • Lead the way and provide more diverse role models, where possible

In addition to the above ongoing efforts, specifically during Pride Month, show your support by:

  • Encouraging your team to participate, share and be allies
  • Messaging via social and other forms of media during Pride Month
  • Encouraging participation in Pride events and providing support for educational workshops
  • Appreciating that the rainbow is a symbol of pride, diversity, and a statement of visibility, changing your Zoom background in a show of solidarity
  • Adding a signature line to emails, such as: “Happy Pride! I’m an ally of the LGBTQ2+”

Whether or not you choose to do anything specific during Pride Month, be sure that your practices support all employees – regardless of sexual or gender orientation/expression – to achieve their full potential in your workplace.

“Equality means more than passing laws. The struggle is really won in the hearts and minds of the community, where it really counts.”

Barbara Gittings