By Christos Amyrotos
“Another year, another Pride month!”
In recent years, that is how many companies approach the month of June as they make their annual plans for celebrations, discounts or events. As a gay man, I am so happy to see more corporations taking part in celebrating the month of June and the LGBTQ+ community. June is considered Pride Month representative of the month that people started fighting back against being oppressed by the police in the late 60s.
Today, many events, Pride celebrations, and rainbow products are launched throughout June. However, I am always on the fence when I suddenly see rainbows everywhere, and I mean everywhere, as many corporations tend to be colourful during that one month, whilst the rest of the year, they tend to be more black and white!
Why is Pride important?
Let me paint you a picture…
Walking down the street holding hands with your partner is a very normal thing in today’s society, something most people do freely without judgement or even batting an eyelid. However, unfortunately, this is not the reality for many LGBTQ+ people, who are still subject to stares, questions and even abuse for simply showing the smallest act of affection to their partner, and this is very much still a problem in 2023.
We need to remember that in the UK, homosexuality was only fully decriminalised in 1967, and it only became legal for a same-sex couple to marry in 2014.
Despite all the positive progress we have seen happening in recent years, in the last few months, we have seen countries across the globe making it illegal to talk about LGBTQ+ issues or publicly be yourself, banning books from libraries, schools from talking about non-traditional families and introducing laws that make trans people feel like they are being erased.
As a company, you have a duty to ensure that your LGBTQ+ staff feel welcome and comfortable all year round and not just for that one month.
Have a clear and accurate Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) policy.
Existing staff and new starters especially need to be made aware of this policy so they know that their company will support them if they feel that they are ever being discriminated against. When new starters feel as though the company they are about to start working for is supportive of who they are, they are more likely to be themselves and, as a result, enjoy their working environment and succeed within the organisation.
Encourage the use of preferred pronouns.
In the last few years, we have seen local authorities and private companies beginning to add preferred pronouns to ID badges and email signatures, as well as online platforms allowing people to add their pronouns when creating their profiles. Although not mandatory, this is a big step towards making everyone feel included. Companies wanting to make their LGBTQ+ colleagues feel more welcome should support and utilise these advances within the working environment, whether that be on Linkedin or email signatures.
Yes, some Pride events may feel tokenistic, but this should not stop you from celebrating the staff who are out and proud in your company. Doing so will not only make the LGBTQ+ staff feel appreciated and welcome, it can also encourage staff who may not be out at work yet to come out because they will be celebrated for who they are.
Pride month or not, let’s celebrate everyone for being their authentic selves all year round! 🏳️🌈