Pride month at work

Blog by Marina Kooijmans, HLB's Chief People Officer
8 June 2021

Every June, the world celebrates diversity and inclusion with Pride month. It is a time to recognise the importance of diversity in our communities and businesses around the world.

Pride month is a global movement to show support for and raise awareness of the LGBTQ+ community. Currently most business, whether they operate globally or locally, big or small, are starting to acknowledge the need for a more inclusive and diverse workplace. Pride month is an opportunity to celebrate the differences and similarities that bind us together and make sure that everyone feels welcome, respected, and comfortable in their own skin, regardless of sexuality, race, gender, religion, or ability.

For the most part, many organisations are supportive of LGBTQ+ employees. However, as with all other forms of discrimination there is still a very long way to go to ensure that we stamp out discrimination against LGBTQ+ colleagues everywhere, once and for all.

The end of discrimination at work starts with the development of strong internal talent policies that focus on diversity and inclusion. An inclusive and diverse workplace matters, not only for the employees of the firm but for long term business success.

What does diversity and inclusion at work look like?

Strong policies are a fantastic start, but diversity and inclusion at work should move beyond a legal policy obligation. In its core, diversity and inclusion in the workplace should be that no-one feels left out, discriminated against, passed over for promotion, or singled-out for a development opportunity because of their gender, sexual orientation, age, ethnicity, or their ability. Everybody is entitled to a sense of belonging.

A sense of belonging is not just a critical component of improving workforce performance, it is woven into the fabric of human nature. Belonging is the feeling of psychological safety that allows employees to be their best selves at work. Even at the most diverse of companies, employees will disengage and leave if they do not feel respected.

Firms that want to remain competitive in a rapidly changing world should continue to focus on adapting their people processes to attract, retain and develop talent from a truly diverse talent perspective.

At HLB International, our people are our biggest and most valuable asset. Each person’s individuality and unique point of view contributes to our success as a global network as we work together towards a common goal. We are committed to creating a respectful and safe environment for every one of our nearly 30,000 people – no matter their race, religion, gender or sexual orientation.

Building an inclusive culture where people can be their authentic selves is at the core of our purpose and values. Engaged, connected employees bring their best ideas and the best attitude to work every day – and in turn, deliver the best services to our customers across the globe. We also know from experience that there is a strong correlation between employee engagement and customer experience.

Why is diversity and inclusion in business important?

As well as the apparent benefits of a healthier, more productive workplace, a diverse and inclusive workforce offers deep and broad benefits across the entire organisation. Having a diverse workforce will create a more heterogeneous group of people, allowing an organisation to see things from different points of view, helping both the individual employees, and the business as a whole to reach their full potential. It creates a better experience for everyone, and, ultimately, develops a culture of creativity and innovation and better outcomes for customers worldwide.

A diverse organisation will gain a better understanding of their customers, because it is likely that customers come from diverse backgrounds as well, with large cross-sections from underrepresented groups. A diverse and inclusive workforce could therefore support a firm to tap into markets represented by their customer base.

A report from LinkedIn about global recruiting trends from 2018 found that diversity is directly aligned with a company’s culture and financial performance. In fact, 78% of companies prioritise diversity to improve culture and 62% do so to boost financial performance.

Companies that embrace LGBTQ+ policies outperform their competitors. Cultures that embrace the diversity that the LGBTQ+ community represents help to attract top talent and foster innovation, and people perform significantly better when they can be themselves at work. Yet more than a third of LGBTQ+ staff still choose not to disclose their sexual orientation at work for fear of discrimination.

How to support LGBTQ+ colleagues at work

During Pride Month we’d like to suggest ways that your business can support LGBTQ+ colleagues in the workplace:

  • Better anticipate the LGBTQ+ community

Start by ensuring that all your talent activities and policies are created through an LGBTQ+ lens. For example, when it comes to parental leave, not all parents are heterosexual, some fathers are the primary caregiver, and anyone may decide to adopt a child. The various scenarios should be anticipated, and a fitting policy built and communicated to employees.

  • Reward inclusive behaviour

Firms need to be braver in their journey towards a more inclusive and respectful culture. This can start with keeping employees accountable for inclusive behaviour. To be engaged and supportive of inclusion, which includes respecting LGBTQ+ colleagues, means that anyone who is being successful in their role, should be considered for promotion as an essential hallmark of performance.

  • Search for active allies

Allies are proactive in their support and defence of individuals in an underrepresented group. To be a true ally means taking on the struggle of another as your own, carrying the weight felt by those in a marginalised group and never putting it down. Allyship means valuing people with experiences different from your own, learning about privileges and unconscious biases. Allyship is a journey of personal learning and growth, but it is also a powerful driver of broader change. By helping your firm to understand and embrace a wide variety of experiences and viewpoints, it empowers the people in your organisation to challenge themselves and others to drive meaningful change and to create a workplace where everyone can thrive.

Diverse perspectives, combined with an inclusive culture, drive better decision-making, stimulate innovation, increase organisational agility and strengthen resilience to disruption. Inclusive organisations maximise the power of all differences and realise the full potential of their employees. Creating and maintaining a culture of diversity and inclusion can help organisations sustain long-term success in the marketplace. The change we realise inside the workplace will end up having a broader positive impact on all aspects of our lives. And not just this Pride Month, but always.

Above all, Pride month should prompt us to think about the role each of us plays in fostering LGBT+ inclusion. Looking out at the world, with the COVID-19 pandemic highlighting inequalities in our businesses and in society, diversity and inclusion at work is more important than ever. We all have a responsibility to call out bias and inequality if we see it, and we can promote and uphold the fundamental rights and well-being of all.


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