How to Be a Good LGBTQ Ally at Work
We all need to learn how to be a good LGBTQ ally and play our part in creating an inclusive work environment for our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer plus co-workers.
It’s not enough to simply say you’re an LGBTQ+ ally; you have to act like one—not just in the workplace, but everywhere.It is illegal for an employer to discriminate against people because of their sexual orientation, and yet a survey in the UK found more than a third of LGBTQ+ workers (35%) say they’ve hidden their sexual orientation while at work for fear of discrimination. No matter what your orientation is—YOU can make a difference. Here are some ways to act as an ally for LGBTQ inclusion and help prevent discrimination.
How to Be a Good LGBTQ Ally
1. Get Educated
Learning about the LGBTQ community’s history will give you an understanding of their challenges in the workplace while also providing you with some advice on how to be a good LGBTQ ally. Reliable resources include LGBT+ History and this article with information from the Metropolitan Archives.
2. Join an LGBTQ Resource Group
Many companies have groups and associations dedicated to promoting LGBTQ+ inclusion practices and other diversity within their organisation. If your employer has one, taking an active role in it allows you to learn how to be a good LGBTQ ally and help to make your workplace culture a ‘safe space’. In addition, there are a number of LGBTQ+ support services offered by Unions such as Unite and ILGA, an umbrella organisation of over 600 groups.
3. Uncover Your Own Biases
To become a better LGBTQ+ ally, it’s a good idea to first understand any unconscious biases you may have. Increasing your ‘implicit bias’ awareness can help you learn how to be a good LGBTQ ally. A good starting point: Harvard’s Implicit Association Test where you can test your implicit bias on topics such as transgender issues, gender-science, and sexuality.
4. Use Gender-Neutral Greetings
Some people make the common mistake of assuming a person’s gender identity by using gender-specific greetings like, “Hey, dude!” Even if it’s unintentional, misgendering is rude. Until you know people’s personal gender pronouns, go with gender-neutral pronouns. The next time you send a mail-out to your team or are opening a meeting, use a gender-neutral introduction—instead of saying, “Good evening ladies and gentlemen” or “Hi guys,” go with a simple “Hi everyone” or “Hello colleagues.”
5. Take a Stand
More than half of LGBTQ+ employees (53%) said they’ve heard homophobic jokes at work, according to the Human Rights Campaign. In an international survey by Out Now Global, 57% of professionals who said they’ve overheard anti-LGBTQ discussions in the workplace said they were too scared to say anything. Don’t be silent. Speak up! Let it be known that any derogatory remarks aren’t welcome.
You should also ask your employer to add language about respectful workplaces, sexual orientation, and gender identification to any employee handbooks, training, or guidelines.
6. Connect with LGBTQ+ Colleagues
One way to help foster inclusivity and establish trust is to chat with your colleagues one-to-one—as long as they are open to it. If you work with LGBTQ+ people who are out, ask what their experience is like in the workplace and how you can support them. It’s also OK to admit that you might not know things. It’s important to be respectful. Do your research, and find out what questions are not appropriate to ask!
7. Find the Right Employer
Finding a company whose values align with yours is of high importance when it comes to choosing which jobs to apply for. Consider checking a company’s website, career site and social media to see if they have an inclusive policies and culture.
Job Search like an LGBTQ Ally
The fact that more and more people are learning how to be a good LGBTQ ally is a positive step toward inclusivity. Want to work for a company that reflects your values but not sure where to start? Create a free profile on Monster and you can get customised job alerts from your favourite companies. We can help streamline the job search process so that you're only reviewing opportunities that would be a good fit. You should work for a company that is a safe space and welcomes everyone to their team.