June is Pride Month. It's an honoring of a movement, of change, and of growth. And while strides forward have been made, our LGBTQ community is continuing to experience harassment and discrimination.
51% of LGBTQ Americans say they or an LGBTQ friend or family member have experienced
sexual harassment. - NPR
Define the Line training participants experienced or witnessed this type of harassing behavior:
30% Asking questions, such as inquiries about sexual history or sexual orientation. 25% Making offensive comments about someone's sexual orientation or gender identity.
These numbers are too high! How can we get to zero? We have some positive steps you can take to move the needle closer to that goal.
Just checking in
Harassment may be happening outside, or even inside the workplace, and you may not be aware of it. The effects of harassment on your employees are not always visible. Poor performance, missing work, combative behavior, disengagement - these are all signs of an underlying issue. Regularly checking in with employees and asking how they are doing can uncover the problem. This is especially important with your remote workers. Out of sight shouldn't be out of mind.
What’s in a name
The use of pronouns is playing a more prominent role in all forms of communication and media today. Thankfully, this takes the burden of explaining and correcting someone’s gender identification off that individual. He/him, she/her, they/them – how can these pronouns be used in your organization to normalize gender identity discussions and promote inclusivity?
Start with the company brand, mission, vision, and values – are the pronouns reflecting who you are and what you stand for
Review your job application, job postings, and job descriptions
Invite employees to add pronouns to their email signature and social media profiles
In the employee handbook and policies, update references of “he or she” to the gender-neutral “them/they/their”
Train managers and employees on gender awareness, anti-harassment, and discrimination in the workplace
Ask employees how they want to be referred to or “What pronouns do you use?”
Mistakes do happen
What do you do if you get it wrong? Maybe you are making introductions and you use the wrong pronoun for someone. Don’t make an excuse. Respectfully apologize and correct your mistake. Pronouns and names may change, so continuing to educate yourself will help alleviate future mistakes. Practicing using pronouns, by yourself or with a friend, can also help encourage familiarity.
What do you do if someone else gets it wrong? This may depend on the situation. Speaking up for others with a simple, “I believe Chris uses the pronouns she/her”, can be all that is needed unless the individual doesn’t want the attention on them. You could wait and ask them privately how they would like you to address any corrections in the future.
65% of respondents agree that employers should intervene when an employee regularly misuses a co-worker’s pronouns or chosen name, while 58% believe that regular misuse is a form of
workplace harassment. - Out & Equal
Who doesn’t like to feel included and celebrated? Show your employees how much you value and respect them. Consider hosting Pride-themed events. Bring in LGBTQ speakers for lunch and learns. Offer time off for employees to volunteer in their communities or participate in causes that are important to them. And let’s not forget, we can celebrate diversity beyond just the month of June.
ERG for the WIN
Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are another way to support inclusion. Catalyst defines ERGs as, “voluntary, employee-led groups that foster a diverse, inclusive workplace aligned with organizational mission, values, goals, business practices, and objectives.” Creating space for shared commonalities brings a sense of community inside.
We don't need a designated month to show support, to do the work, and to stop harassment. We can all be allies and start today! Here at Define the Line, we are your allies and are ready to support you!