LGBTQ+ Inclusion is Needed All Year Round, Not Just for Pride Month
It’s been 50 years since the New York Police Department raided the Stonewall Inn, inciting days of protests that ultimately sparked the gay liberation movement and led to the first-ever pride parade a year later.
In the half-century since then, Pride has evolved into a spectacle of rainbows, floats, face paint and glitter. Here in Ireland, Dublin Pride has come a long way from its 1974 roots, when just 10 people marched — this year’s parade will be led by 70 LGBTQ+ organisations and community groups as well as global companies including Amazon, Microsoft, Adobe and Dell EMC.
But supporting LGBTQ+ rights requires more than waving a rainbow flag once a year. Here are three companies doing the right thing all year round — and some steps your organisation can take to become more inclusive.
Organisations flying the LGBTQ+ flag all year
In a sea of rainbow flags, shirts and shimmery trimming, it can be difficult to figure out which businesses are sincere in their support of LGBTQ+ rights. That’s one reason why the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) releases the Corporate Equality Index, an annual survey that focuses on corporate policies and practices around the LGBTQ+ community.
Here are three companies with a base in Ireland that achieved a perfect score:
Consulting firm Accenture is committed to an equal workplace and does not discriminate based on sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. The company has won awards for its global Allies programme, which has more than 110,000 members and pairs LGBTQ+ employees with mentors to help them negotiate the company’s programs and support. Not to mention, Accenture co-launched the Partnership for Global LGBTI Equality earlier this year in collaboration with the World Economic Forum to provide a platform to accelerate workplace inclusion globally.
Tech giant Apple has achieved a perfect score on the HRC’s index for the past 16 years straight. Not only is its CEO Tim Cook the first openly gay chief executive of a Fortune 500 company, but it’s also offered healthcare benefits for same-sex partners for over 20 years. In addition, Apple provides equal benefits to same-sex partners of employees, including six weeks of parental leave after the birth of a new child. As the company’s website notes, “We advocate on behalf of LGBTQ+ people because we believe that LGBTQ+ rights are human rights.”
Equality is a core value at cloud computing powerhouse Salesforce, which advocates for LGBTQ+ rights in the communities where it lives and works. This includes standing against anti-LGBTQ legislation and standing up for marriage equality. The company’s Outforce community brings together employees who are LGBTQ+ allies to help promote an open and inclusive culture and educate the Salesforce ecosystem on how D&I can create business success. Salesforce also helped co-launch the World Economic Forum’s Partnership for Global LGBTI Equality earlier this year and in 2016, CEO Marc Benioff was honoured by GLAAD for advancing LGBT equality and acceptance through tech and new media.
But while the world has come a long way since the Stonewall riots 50 years ago, more remains to be done — and a rainbow alone will do little to advance LGBTQ+ rights.
Here are a few steps your organisation can take to become more inclusive all year round:
1. Review and revise workplace policies
Use gender-neutral language in all policies and documents and ensure pensions, family and parental leave policies, and healthcare benefits support all employees, including LGBTQ+, trans and non-binary.
2. Support the LGBTQ+ community
Follow Salesforce’s lead and set up a networking group specifically for LGBTQ+ employees and allies. Members can help champion diversity and inclusion in the workplace and offer advice and suggestions on other ways the company can support equality.
3. Promote your business as LGBTQ+ inclusive
Make it known that you support LGBTQ+ rights not only by participating in events like Pride but also by promoting your organisation as an inclusive environment. Ensure that your LGBTQ+ inclusive information is available on your website and don’t forget to include staff testimonials and photos.
4. Practice what you preach
Once you have created a diverse and inclusive environment that welcomes everyone with open arms, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation, it’s important to ensure that your business activities align with your internal policies and external messaging.
The numbers don’t lie: Research by Deloitte has shown that companies with diverse and inclusive teams can generate up to 30% more revenue per employee, and are more innovative, engaged and creative. If that wasn’t enough, a study last year by Boston Consulting Group found that companies with diverse management teams have 19% higher revenues than those that don’t.
So while the inclusion journey won’t happen overnight, openly and authentically supporting LGBTQ-inclusive policies and employees in the workplace is a great place to start.