How to have difficult conversations around pride month in the workplace

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Health Assured team

21 June 2023

Love, sexuality and gender identity is always something to be celebrated, in all its beautiful and diverse forms. Pride spans across the month of June each year and marks a time which celebrates the joy and love of the LGBTQ+ community and highlights ongoing issues and fight for rights that are under attack. Celebrations include parades, festivals and parties that are held throughout the month across the globe. 

The month of pride is essentially to support human rights, it empowers LGBTQ+ individuals, and provides a platform in which they can reclaim the rights and freedoms which they are denied and enter public spaces freely which they are often excluded from.  

In the workplace, actively supporting equality and diversity practices is a must. Creating an inclusive workplace encourages and empowers employees to confidently thrive in an environment in which they feel nurtured and accepted as individuals. Over the last decade, organisations have made huge conscious efforts to promote and create an LGBTQ+ inclusive workplace. Research has shown that a diverse and inclusive workplace helps to draw in talent into the workplace, fosters innovation and employees are reported to work significantly better when they can be themselves.  

However, the road to creating an inclusive workplace for LGBTQ+ individuals isn't without its challenges. Having difficult conversations can be awkward, and its human nature to feel afraid of saying the ‘wrong’ thing.  We can all benefit from having open, honest and respectful conversations with LGBTQ+ colleagues and employees. Here are some tips to help you approach these conversations. 

Learn to Listen: 

Before you approach any topic, which is sensitive, such as gender, sexuality or any other protected characteristic, it's important to take the time to educate yourself. These conversations should be productive, and education is a necessary foundation for that. Take the time to build your own awareness to the topic and history of the LGBTQ+ community and acknowledge any unconscious bias’ you may have towards the experiences of those in marginalised group. 

Identify an Appropriate Method of Conversation: 

Depending on the particular situation at work, there could be a multitude of ways in which you can approach a conversation. It's important to think about the location, style of communication, subject matter and individual, as these can all drastically change the outcome of a conversation. It's important to create a safe space in which you can have these conversations, and ensure that the approach you take is calm, understanding, and that you have used the learnings from your research to speak comfortably.  

Establish Good Intentions: 

It's important to have these conversations so that they come from a good place. Perpetuating bias, or even not fully committing to the conversation can be detrimental to what you are trying to achieve. Sharing goals of what you want to get out of the conversation is a great way to move past misunderstandings.  

Avoid Shaming Language: 

It's important to let the other person show up and be their authentic self. If a person feels shamed, judged or as though the focus is starting to shift from what matters, this can act as a conversation-barrier and lead to a resolution not being found. Encourage the individual to speak freely and honestly about what they feel, and this can lead to a better understanding and pathway.  

Make Sure the Individual Feels Seen: 

It’s a good idea to avoid any generalising or stereotyping statements, as this can cause marginalised groups to feel like you aren't really hearing their experience or seeing who they are as an individual with their own story and experiences. Encouraging storytelling is a great way to understand how scenarios can help you to create a different reality which can support that individual. 

Repeat, Act and Amplify: 

Having difficult conversations can be mentally taxing. Getting into such deep conversation can leave you feeling slightly overwhelmed, and you may need to take a breather from the conversation. It's important to take time out so you can understand what you have learnt and focus properly on the following actions you want to take. 

Creating an inclusive working environment, having challenging conversations around equality and celebrating the LGBTQ+ community should not be subjective to only the month of June. It's vital that we continuously have these conversations to work towards a more inclusive and safe space, where individuals can exist as their authentic selves and feel supported in and out of the workplace.  

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