As we enter Pride 2023, it’s a good time for business owners to think about how to support LGBTQIA+ people in the workplace — both employees and customers alike.
Consider this: according to the most recent Gallup poll, 7.1% of Americans now self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or as something other than heterosexual. That figure is double the percentage from 2012, when Gallup first started measuring it.
The 2022 poll also shows that one in five Gen Z adults identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or other than heterosexual.
And expand that to the broader LGBTQIA+ cohort? That’s a lot of people your business can impact for the better.
But in case you’re unfamiliar with the acronym, here’s what each letter means:
Lesbian — A woman who’s inclined to partner with other women.
Gay — A man who’s inclined to partner with other men.
Bisexual — An individual who’s inclined to partner with both men and women.
Transgender — An individual whose gender identity doesn’t match their sex assigned at birth.
Queer/Questioning — Either someone who doesn’t define strictly on the spectrum, or an individual uncertain about or exploring their romantic orientation.
Intersex — An individual born with sex characteristics corresponding to both sexes.
Asexual — An individual who’s not inclined to partner with any gender.
Plus (+) — Reserved to legitimize additional identities and those that might emerge in the future.
In order to support the community, it's important to be educated about the people within it. If you're unfamiliar with the different identities included in the LGTBQIA+ acronym, another resource that might help is the Human Rights Campaign’s Glossary of Terms.
With that understood, let’s explore how a large, multinational corporation may approach this type of support. Then, we’ll look at some of the things you can do, as a business owner, to support your own LGBTQIA+ employees and people who interact with your business.
How does GoDaddy support LGBTQIA+ individuals?
GoDaddy dedicates resources to the key initiatives we’re about to cover. At the core of this activity are two groups: the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) program, an internal group that seeks to continually foster an inclusive and healthy environment within the company, and GDUnited, which represents and celebrates the LGBTQIA+ community, both inside and outside GoDaddy.
Information about these efforts and much more can be found in our 2022 Diversity and Pay Parity Annual report.
How to support LGBTQIA+ employees within your organization
Today, some form of diversity and inclusion in the workplace is essential, and can have a big impact on your employees and business. While some businesses might lack the resources to sustain large-scale initiatives, there’s always something you can do to tell employees, Hey, you belong. And we’re glad you’re here.
Foster a culture of education
As mentioned earlier, it’s understandable if people might be unfamiliar with the LGBTQIA+ acronym and community. No biggie. You can offer employees the opportunity to educate themselves by posting this information somewhere conspicuous, like on a break room bulletin board.
If you distribute company updates through email, blog posts or even a paper newsletter, consider including regular LGBTQIA+ content. This gives employees the chance to understand what might be new information on their own terms, and encourages learning and curiosity. It’s important to amplify the voices of people in the community to help educate others about their experiences.
And by fostering a culture of education, in which everyone is permitted to engage on their own terms, you can be sure your team will experience a sense of pride in their shared understanding.
Encourage LGBTQIA+ expression & support
What if, as the leader of your organization, you added pronouns to your email signature? You can bet employees would notice, and many might follow your example in supporting awareness of gender diversity.
That’s just one subtle way to encourage LGBTQIA+ expression and support.
But subtle isn’t always the best route. Sometimes it’s necessary to leave no doubt about your position. For example, when controversy surfaces in the news, you could communicate to employees that LGBTQIA+ people will always be welcome in your organization.
Maintain inclusive hiring practices
If you haven’t yet examined your policies for things like anti-discrimination and equal benefits, now is the time to do so. You should clearly spell out your stance on LGBTQIA+ equality, as well as the benefits you offer such as gender-affirming care, fertility benefits and adoption leave.
Another thing to consider is making more visible your stance on equal-opportunity hiring.
For example, job sites like Indeed or LinkedIn might bring in a good amount of solid applicants, but they don’t speak directly to inclusivity. It’s a good idea to include your commitment to inclusivity and equity directly in your job descriptions, and to cross-post your opportunities on LGBTQIA+ job boards like Pink Jobs and LGBT.net.
Above all, avoid tokenism. No individual can or does speak for an entire community of people, and no one should be made to feel as if they are being used as a prop for a corporate or personal gain of others.
If a member of the LGBTQIA+ community joins your organization, it’s an opportunity to benefit from their skills and experience — not to score points.
Listen to your employees
It’s important to ensure you have good listening strategies in place so that you can both hear from and understand employee experiences in your workplace. This will allow you to keep up with how people are feeling, including whether they feel supported, safe, and as if they can perform their best.
Consider sending out employee surveys
Do this on a regular basis, and make sure to both analyze and follow up on the results. There is no better way to understand how best to support and enable people outside of simply asking them.
It is especially important to prioritize addressing anything within your organization that may be allowing or enabling bias, discrimination or feelings of exclusion.
Follow the lead of organizations that represent the community
Organizations like the Human Rights Campaign Foundation and others publish a lot of guidelines and recommendations on how best to support LGTBQIA+ employees and individuals, including key opportunities around benefits, culture and inclusion.
Provide opportunities to participate in the LGBTQIA+ community
Many people remain unaware that the LGBTQIA+ community is open and welcoming to folks from all walks of life. There truly is a place for everyone to participate in and support the community as an ally.
If you’re interested in offering employees LGBTQIA+ volunteer opportunities, organizations like the Human Rights Campaign can connect you with a variety of roles to provide the perfect fit for your team.
Don't forget that this can also be about having fun.
For example, if a local gay bar puts on a karaoke night, why not reach out as a potential sponsor? Offer to cover the cost of A/V rentals, the DJ or decorations, and give your employees the chance to get involved.
The publicity will be great for business, sure, but the smiles and laughs at work the next morning — as well as the feelings of safety and inclusion it promotes — will be priceless.
Finally, don’t forget about Pride.
It’s likely there will be events for your team to join, such as parades. Check with your local Pride community center to see what’s happening around town. If there’s nothing, peep Google’s #prideforeveryone experience, which uses 360-degree cameras to document Pride parades around the world — a cool watch party for your squad.
How to support LGBTQIA+ customers outside your organization
Now that we’ve explored how to make your organization a more safe and inclusive place for employees, let’s look at creating the same experience for customers and other people outside your organization.
Let them know where you stand
This can be as simple as displaying a Pride sticker on your window or posting on social media. You can use GoDaddy Studio: go to Templates to find posters you can design yourself, or you can download and print this one below.
You can also do the same with your business website.
In the About section, showcase all the things you do to support LGBTQIA+ people. And if you’re ready to get next-level with stating your position, create a microsite dedicated to your awesome initiatives, and then attach a .gay domain to it.
Move toward gender neutrality
If you’ve ever anxiously waited in line for the bathroom, you understand the beauty of gender-neutral restrooms — it’s the magical place where practicality meets equality. Kidding aside, restrooms like these let your customers know they aren’t judged on the basis of their gender identity, and they can create a much safer and supportive space for some
It can also act as training wheels for people who are still getting used to the idea of gender neutrality.
While you’re on the subject, do an audit of all customer-facing communications, such as signage, decorations or advertisements. When you use gender-specific language, ask yourself if it’s really necessary. If changing he/she to they/them doesn’t change the meaning or intent, it’s the right move. Or just get rid of the pronouns altogether.
Partner with LGBTQIA+ organizations
Just like sponsorships create opportunities for your employees, partnerships and cross-promotions give your customers broader access to the LGBTQIA+ community. Not only that, this can give a boost to businesses that might exist in a smaller niche.
Picture this: You operate a busy hair salon. Another boutique in town, LGBTQIA+ owned and operated, offers an herbally infused exfoliant. You partner up, promoting their products in your salon.
When your clients come in for a style, they learn about a wonderful exfoliant as well as the story behind the boutique offering it.
You get to expand your offerings, your LGBTQIA+ partner reaches a larger market, and clients get to educate themselves while enjoying fabulous skin.
Maintain a safe space
Now that your business is set up to support LGBTQIA+ people, keep it a safe space. Keep yourself in the know on the latest trends and issues surrounding the community, and don’t be afraid to display updated decor or news clippings when it makes sense.
But most of all, be prepared to address toxic behavior when it arises. That doesn’t mean you’re a lifeguard now, prepared to blow your whistle and holler at offenders. Use your judgment. Set expectations for the behavior you will allow in at your business. You might be surprised to learn how little it takes to bring people into the fold.
Enjoy celebrating Pride 2023
Hopefully, some of the strategies we’ve covered will help you shape your business into a more inclusive place. And that's a reason to celebrate. Now that you’ve put in the work to support LGBTQIA+ people, get out there and participate in the community. Let your voice be loud and strong as you celebrate inclusion and diversity — and make sure to share that much-deserved sense of pride.