How to promote inclusion and allyship in the workplace

Brent Herman our consultant managing the role
Posting date: 01 June 2023

Pride month holds great significance for the LGBTQIA+ community and its allies. It provides an opportunity to honour the historical milestones achieved in the pursuit of equality and to reflect on the challenges that LGBTQIA+ individuals such as myself continue to face. 


To celebrate Pride, and particularly what being part of this minority means in the workplace, I want to delve into its origins, explore the headwinds that LGBTQIA+ community face in the workplace and provide practical tips on how to be a supportive ally to LGBTQIA+ employees.

Understanding the significance of Pride month

Before delving into workplace dynamics, it’s important to understand the historical context and significance of Pride month. Pride commemorates the Stonewall Riots of 1969, a pivotal event in LGBTQIA+ history that sparked the modern-day LGBTQIA+ rights movement. 


While great leaps have been made in the UK for equality, it serves as a reminder of the ongoing work that needs to be done around the world, while celebrating the diverse identities within the LGBTQIA+ community.

Navigating LGBTQIA+ experiences in the workplace

Being LGBTQIA+ can introduce unique challenges in the workplace. When I think back on my own experiences, for example, I’ve had to factor in safety concerns while travelling to certain countries for work that hetrosexual individuals may not encounter.


It can also be harder to assimilate into organisational culture. There have been times when I’ve asked myself whether I can bring my authentic self to work without fear of judgement or exclusion (I’m very lucky that at Hanover, I have no such concerns). But outdated traditions in the workplace, such as old-school boys' clubs or heteronormative networking practices, may inadvertently create barriers to inclusivity. Understanding these dynamics is key to creating a welcoming environment for everyone.


Moreover, belonging to a minority group often means going the extra mile to prove oneself and challenge stereotypes. LGBTQIA+ individuals may face additional pressure to succeed, all while striving to dismantle misconceptions about their identity. It’s crucial to recognise these added challenges and support LGBTQIA+ colleagues in their professional growth.


This emotional engagement and allyship can help everyone understand the importance of fostering a work environment in which LGBTQIA+ employees can feel safe, accepted and supported.


There’s also an ironic flip side to this. While acknowledging and celebrating LGBTQIA+ identities is crucial, it’s equally important to recognise that it’s just one aspect of a person's identity. We have to move beyond labels and create an environment that values individuality and diversity.


Often, “LGBTQIA+” becomes an umbrella term that clusters individuals together, inadvertently overlooking the uniqueness of each person's experiences. By solely focusing on this one aspect of their identity, we risk oversimplifying their multifaceted personalities and reinforcing stereotypes.


To promote inclusivity, we must strive to understand and appreciate the complexities that make each person unique, recognising that LGBTQIA+ individuals, just like anyone else, have a range of talents, interests and perspectives that extend beyond their sexual orientation or gender identity.


By embracing individuality, you can create a company culture that celebrates everyone’s diverse talents and contributions. Encouraging colleagues to share their stories, passions and personal experiences fosters a workplace in which everyone feels seen, heard and valued for their complete selves.

5 practical tips for allyship in the workplace

To foster this inclusive work environment, it’s important to actively practise allyship and take practical steps to support your LGBTQIA+ colleagues. Here are my tips for how you can do this:

1. Educate yourself

Expand your knowledge by engaging with reading materials, podcasts and blogs on LGBTQIA+ topics. This will empower you to ask thoughtful questions and approach conversations with confidence and respect.


2. Encourage open dialogue

Create spaces in which colleagues feel comfortable discussing LGBTQIA+ topics without fear of judgement. Encourage open dialogue and provide opportunities for people to share their experiences, fostering understanding and empathy.

3. Be mindful of language and pronouns

Respect gender identities by using people’s correct pronouns and inclusive language. Avoid assumptions and let individuals define themselves, rather than labelling or boxing them into stereotypes (and don’t forget that an individual’s self-definition will be a lot wider than being LGBTQIA+).

4. Act as an advocate

Amplify minority voices and advocate for inclusive policies and practices within your organisation. Support initiatives that promote diversity and equality, and actively challenge discriminatory behaviour or language.

5. Foster inclusive networks

Encourage the creation of diverse and inclusive professional networks within your workplace. Facilitate connections that go beyond heteronormative norms, allowing LGBTQIA+ individuals to build authentic relationships and thrive.


By understanding the emotional impact of LGBTQIA+ experiences in the workplace and implementing practical steps for allyship, we can create an inclusive environment where all individuals can thrive, regardless of our sexual orientation or gender identity. 


Let’s embrace diversity, challenge stereotypes and work together to foster more inclusive and accepting work cultures.

If you’d like to chat with me about how you can create a more inclusive workplace culture, get in touch directly and let’s set up time for a chat.

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