It’s nearly the end of June but Pride Month is still in full swing. While it’s a month for celebrating a marginalized and diverse group of people it also offers an opportunity for businesses to confront their working culture and whether or not it’s inclusive. It’s a privilege to be in a country with such progressive laws, especially when in other African countries a lot of people still don’t have the legal rights to be who they are. The social media posts and advertisement campaigns don’t take away from the fact that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees and workers still face discrimination at some point during their employment cycle. This new generation going into the working environment will have to navigate the policies and procedures set in place at a time or by a generation that’s not necessarily as accepting or is adamantly set in an old and more prejudiced way of thinking. As a brand or business you have to ask yourself what steps you’re taking in building an LGBQT-inclusive workplace. if you’re struggling to find an answer here are a few ways to start:
Watch your language
Policies and procedures when it comes to non-discrimination and potential issues that could directly affect members of the LGBTQ community need to be more specific. Most policies put in place aren’t clear or only give a vague explanation or procedure if any issues arise. Be clear, take a stance so your employees feel seen, heard and not vulnerable by limiting room for any complacency or misinterpretation. This is also something that can be done during the hiring process. Be mindful of who you’re bringing into your team, ask yourself if their personal biases or views prove to be problematic to the company culture a few months down the line?
It’s never too late to unlearn
We live in an extremely diverse country with over 12 languages, a multitude of religions or faith followings, different classes and races. It’s only natural to have unconscious biases but, it’s never too late to unlearn them. Increase understanding and your team’s awareness of issues that are unique to LGBQT+ members. Participate in pride events, workshops or bring in a professional to introduce topics that you and other members of your team may not even be familiar with. Create a space for open dialogue.
Create a culture that makes it easy to ‘just ask’
Having a ‘cool’ modern culture can help stimulate creativity and create a safe space for individuals who may have previously felt they didn’t have a voice. As progressive as the laws may be in South Africa, it doesn’t negate the culture and views society may still hold. By making the environment a safe space, you’re inviting a conversation. Asking your employees what would make them feel more seen, heard and protected through office surveys or just a chat can give you more insight than you realize.
Happy Pride Month. We hope these tips will help you create a more inclusive and healthier working environment for the incoming working generation.