LGBTQ+ Advocacy In The Workplace

LGBTQ+ Advocacy In The Workplace

Key insights

  • Advocacy can improve productivity
  • Organisations promote advocacy for inclusivity
  • Create better job satisfaction through LGBTQ+ advocacy

Despite the progress made, many people across the world are under attack for who they are.  To commemorate the 1969 Stonewall Riots, the whole of June is Pride Month, a chance to honour and celebrate LGBTQ+ people and their impact, raising awareness of issues, challenges and stigmas LGBTQ+ people fact as well as amplifying their voices and showing support and solidarity to their rights and culture.

While supporting LGBTQ+ rights is not just for Pride Month, June can be an excellent time to further improve the workplace culture and foster an even more inclusive environment at work. This is where advocacy can play an essential role in building inclusivity and equality in the organisation.

What is advocacy?

In general terms, advocacy means getting support from people to help you stand up for your rights and express your views and wishes.

Workplace advocacy means amplifying messages, educating, creating catalysts for change and ensuring voices are not silenced.

There are three main areas of advocacy:

Self-advocacy: speaking up for yourself

Individual advocacy: creating change and speaking up for and concentrating efforts on individuals who are treated unfairly

Systems advocacy: Creating changes and speaking up on a broader level on how laws, rules or policies could be impacting lives.

Building LGBTQIA+ Workplace Advocacy

96% of Fortune 500 companies have non-discrimination policies for sexual orientation, which is a positive change in the industry. However, there are still more changes to make, as just 71% of these firms have transgender-inclusive benefits.

For organisations, having advocacy in place can help to bridge any gaps and create a more inclusive culture. Those willing to speak up in support and solidarity can help to advocate for those who don’t feel able to speak up and create an environment that is welcoming, encouraging and fair to all.

For employers, encouraging advocacy in the workplace can offer business benefits too. An inclusive and engaged culture can boost business performance, benefit employee wellbeing, and improve communication which can help workplaces to run more effectively. Productivity is seen to increase when organisations are inclusive and prioritise employee welfare and happiness.

Educate

Advocacy starts with education to ensure people have understanding. It is usual for organisations to have tick-box diversity training. However, education extends beyond a training session on LGBTQIA+ rights. It is important to stay up to date with recent news, updates on changes and inclusion of personal stories and perspectives to build greater awareness.

Education can also help advocates to speak up on the matters raised in training. Education can also show the company’s current position on matters and provides an opportunity to explore what more can be done within the organisation to become more inclusive.

In some organisations, having external experts or a diversity lead can help to build confidence regarding training areas and improve inclusion within the workplace.

Find the champions

While advocates can be at any level in the workplace, it can really benefit from having champions in the senior leadership team that can help create a trickle-down effect. Finding senior leaders who are vocal and passionate about inclusivity can help to widen the advocacy message to encourage more people to speak up and let their voices be heard.

Ensuring there are advocates at every level can help to feel like the whole organisation is supportive and accepting of every individual.

Create advocacy reporting channels

The focus of advocacy is to be an active participant rather than a bystander. However, for employees to be active participants means creating the proper channels of communication that ensure employees feel safe and comfortable in speaking up and speaking out.

Sadly, many LGBTQ+ individuals may not feel comfortable reporting incidents or providing recommendations for changes and improvements for fear of risking their job security or sharing personal information. This is where advocates and allies can be vital.

Organisations should not only encourage individuals to speak up if they witness discrimination or inappropriate behaviour but also encourage people to report concerns through a clear reporting strategy that is clearly promoted throughout the organisation.

Create a culture of growth 

It is important that organisations accept that embracing LGBTQ+ advocacy is a learning experience, and organisations cannot expect to have a perfectly inclusive culture, as there can always be areas of change, development or improvements.

Advocacy also means supporting others who are committed to championing LGBTQ+ rights but who may be on a journey of learning, building awareness and understanding. They may be actively changing any hurtful behaviours they have undertaken in the past, and it’s about embracing this growth rather than creating barriers.

Organisations that can own up to their shortcomings, areas which need more work and gaps in their inclusivity will grow and develop to become more inclusive than organisations that think they’ve already done the work and do not have any further changes to make.

Recognise privilege

Finally, when advocating for LGBTQ+ people, it is important to recognise your own privilege and perspective that may need consideration. Advocates will stand up, take action and support LGBTQ+ people, but they will also recognise where and when to step back so as not to take up space when a platform can be more effectively used. The focus of advocacy is to keep speaking out for change while standing in solidarity with those marginalised.

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