Pride in the Workplace
June 10, 2021 | 1101 Views
It was 52 years ago this month, in late June 1969, that the modern fight for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) rights in the United States began with the Stonewall Uprising in New York City. This series of demonstrations after a police raid of a gay-friendly tavern called the Stonewall Inn was chaotic and not very well-organized, but it proved to be a seminal moment in this struggle and helped to birth the 1970s Pride movement in which LGBTQ people worked together to not just end discrimination and violence against them, but also find positive avenues for promoting their self-worth and increasing their visibility.
To commemorate the uprising and honor those individuals who worked tirelessly to gain acceptance for this movement, June has been designated as Pride Month within the LGBTQ community. Many cities hold events throughout the month to celebrate Pride, but the parades and festivals are the most well-known as they often reached Mardi Gras levels of fun and festivity.
As our country is still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, some of the events that typically featured large crowds are still on hold during 2021 in order to prevent the spread of the virus. Hospitality managers can still support their LGBTQ employees in the workplace, however, with these 5 suggestions:
1. Pride apparel
It’s true that a giant rainbow wig probably won’t pass your company dress code (or health department restrictions for working with food), but you could let employees know they are welcome to wear other Pride-related clothing as long as these items don’t interfere with their ability to perform their jobs. This apparel could include Pride socks, ties, earrings, or possibly adding something such as a rainbow sticker to their nametag.
2. Pride décor
The most notable symbol of the Pride movement is the rainbow flag, of course, but not every business has a flagpole or the interior space to mount one. If that’s the case, consider putting up a smaller flag next to the register or front desk, or letting your LGBTQ employees add decorations to their work areas (which you can find for a very reasonable cost on places like Amazon). Many city governments or local business associations will also have signs available that you can post on the front door to welcome LGBTQ guests.
3. Creating awareness
If you have an employee bulletin board (either a cork one in the breakroom or an electronic one online), encourage your team members to post about Pride events that are still happening either in the area or online, or about any organizations they will be supporting with volunteer work or charitable donations.
4. Flexible scheduling
Getting time off to attend Pride events that are still happening will be important for many LGBTQ workers, so managers should do their best to accommodate these requests. Helpful tactics could include 1) asking for day-off requests as early as possible to allow more time to plan the schedules, 2) reaching out to other nearby locations to see if workers can be borrowed to cover shifts, or 3) making it as easy as possible for co-workers to swap shifts in order to attend events that they might not be aware of until the last minute.
5. Inclusion policies
Saving the most important for last, the best way to show support for LGBTQ employees isn’t only related to Pride Month but rather something to strive for all year long: creating respectful work environments through the development of an inclusion policy and reinforcing it through ongoing diversity training. If your company doesn’t have this type of system in place, or if it’s been a while since it has been updated, work with your Human Resources Department and LGBTQ members of your staff to develop/revise your materials so they reflect the current issues and can help all employees feel valued and included. You may also want to check to see if your city or state government has an Office of Diversity and Inclusion that could provide additional assistance in this area, and check with the vendors that provide your training content to see if they offer diversity courses you could incorporate into your workplaces.
There is still a lot of work to do before LGBTQ employees achieve acceptance in every workplace across the country, of course, but every step that we take as hospitality professionals to make our team members feel safe and included will be a positive one for our industry and the communities in which we do business.