An inclusive workspace is a good workspace. Unfortunately, discrimination is something far too many LGBTQIA+ employees have experienced at work. At Podium, we’re committed to building a diverse, inclusive, and empowering workplace.
We sat down with Cory Holton, President of Podium’s Pride Employee Resource Group (ERG), and other members of the ERG to get their tips for creating an environment where people feel included, supported, and free to bring 100% of themselves to work every day.
→Lead with Kindness
Being kind is the key to creating a work environment where every employee can thrive. Businesses have to enforce a zero-tolerance policy for hate—it’s just the right thing to do. Cory explained, “People are people and kindness always wins. If you approach each conversation with kindness in mind, you’re going to have good conversations and relationships. It’s that simple. If you are kind, you will create a safe environment.”
→Show Support and Allyship
There is a big difference between saying you’re an ally and actually showing up as an ally. While anyone can say they support an inclusive workplace, it’s important to put action behind those words.
Of course, there is a spectrum of engagement you can have. Putting up pride flags, wearing Pride swag, participating in marches, and showing up for community events are all ways you can show your support and allyship. You can also take allyship a step further by advocating for the LGBTQIA+ community, creating conversations that allow people to share their unique perspectives, and challenging the notion of hate. By doing these things, you show that you have people’s backs whether they’re in the room with you or not.
As humans, we all want to be accepted fully for who we are. A lack of visibility can be isolating and make people feel like they need to hide a part of themselves. Cory explained, “We’ve had to wear a mask for so long but we are also expected to perform. How can we perform well if a percentage of ourselves feels the need to hide parts of ourselves?” By encouraging people to show up as 100% themselves, we allow for higher productivity and increased thought diversity, which will lead to richer outcomes both personally and professionally.
So, how do you encourage visibility? Here are some ways you can get started:
- List your pronouns in your Slack profile, on Zoom, and in your email signature.
- Don’t skirt around the fact that someone is a part of the LGBTQIA+ community. Ask about their partner. Make it a part of normal conversation.
- Create a Slack channel for members of the LGBTQIA+ community and allies to join.
- If you’re a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, make an effort to show up as a person who has a rich life outside of work.
- Hold panels to facilitate education and communication.
- Host a booth at a local Pride parade or other community events.
→Build the Bridge on Both Sides
Creating an inclusive work environment requires a team effort. It’s unfair to expect respect if you’re not giving respect in return. If you want to find common ground, everyone needs to be willing to lean in and help build the bridge from both sides. When you work together and approach situations with an open mind, willing to accept—and celebrate—other perspectives, beliefs, and lifestyles, you will find common ground.
Prioritize Workplace Inclusivity Year Round
It’s easy to prioritize Pride during Pride month, but inclusivity isn’t something we should think about one month out of the year—it should be an ongoing effort. On a company-wide level, this effort should start at the top. If leadership and executives prioritize inclusivity, that sentiment will trickle down through the whole company.
On a personal level, your actions are your responsibility, and they can have a massive impact on how comfortable people feel showing up each day.
If there is anything to be taken away from the thoughts shared by Cory and the other members of Podium’s Pride ERG, it’s that kindness truly is everything. Every day, you get to hold yourself accountable for doing what’s right. No matter who you are or what you believe, you can choose to be kind, do good, and make a positive impact in both your workplace and your personal life.
When you lead with kindness, you allow everyone to show up fully, and when everyone shows up fully, everyone wins.