7 Ways Tech Leaders Can Be LGBTQ+ Allies in 2022
In the wake of the passing of Florida’s HB1577 AKA the “dont say gay” law and other legislative attacks against the LGBTQ+ community happening nationwide, many of our nation’s top companies have issued public statements of allyship and solidarity. However, public solidarity statements without internal culture changes and active support for LGBTQ+ rights is performative allyship. The time is for actionable leadership to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion measures in your workplace is now.
Intersectionality is not only better for company culture, it’s better for your company’s bottom line.
As we mentioned last week in our blog, employee retention and overall recruitment increase when a company stands in support of the LGBTQ+ community. But developing an inclusive workplace isn’t just vocally and outwardly supporting the LGBTQ+ community — it’s facilitating an atmosphere where all staff and leadership can demonstrate genuine allyship to one another, regardless of identity.
Even the most outwardly progressive organizations need to learn to practice workplace allyship. Squad, just because we are an LGBTQ+ organization doesn’t mean we don’t practice allyship on the daily! With knowledge of our own internal allyship structure in mind, we created an accessible guide for leadership.
1️. Take Accountability :: Allyship Starts with You
Your staff will be looking to you now more than ever to show that you support them. Whether as a Hiring Manager, DEI Director, HR Rep, or CEO — you can take tangible action steps to create safer, more equitable, and more inclusive workplaces for your LGBTQ+ employees. Remember, it starts with you! Don’t expect your employee to show up to work on their first day armed with a binder full of suggested changes to company policies. As a leader in the workplace, it’s your job to gather resources and do extensive research to ensure that your policies are inclusive of all staff members. Specifically, your policies should prioritize the well-being of employees who exist at intersections of marginalization: women of color, trans men and women, femmes, undocumented, trans youth, and differently abled.
2. Provide Support and Understanding for Affected Families
The LBGTQ+ community is under attack. There could be members of your staff right now considering other employment options because they need to make sure their family is safe. If your company is located in a state where discriminatory laws have passed, understand that your staff may have to make swift life changes. They may have to move their child to a different school, they may need time off, they may even have to move and work remotely. If your company is able to provide accommodation in making these changes, be sure to let them know you can provide support
3. Active Inclusivity
Don’t have all-gender restrooms? Change signage to provide for ample inclusion. This works on multi-stall or single-user restrooms. Another small, meaningful change is to ensure that all staffers have their gender pronouns in their email signatures and website biography pages. Most importantly- ask your staff what they feel needs to change to make the workplace more inclusive. Anonymous workplace surveys are the perfect way to ensure all voices are heard equally. Remember — pronouns are for everyone, not just your trans employees.
4. Enact Formal DEI Guidelines for Staff to Follow
Nothing is real if it’s not written down! Ensure that your employee codes of conduct, dress codes, standards and practices for reporting, and health insurance policies are gender-inclusive and use accessible language. This is critical to creating a safe environment for your trans employees that is supported by structural policy. In techie-specific spaces, make sure your AI and machine learning are inclusive, too! If you don’t have DEI guidelines and want guidance on creating them, reach out to us!
5. Institute a Zero-Tolerance Policy
Do not overlook micro-aggressions in the workplace. Catering to just the heteronormative socialization, assumption of a singular LGBTQ+ experience, and speculation of sexual pathology/abnormality are just a few examples. For example, if you witness an act of misgendering, quick corrections are often preferred over emotional public apologies. An example would be, “She actually uses she/her pronouns” in response to accidental misgendering. Intentional harmful speech should be addressed swiftly and actively to reprimand the workplace offender and quickly stop discrimination. Once DEI guidelines are in place, they should be strictly adhered to.
6. Consider Your Privilege and Don’t Assume
If you are a white man and you were told you had an upcoming business trip, you were probably never told “go ahead and check with your wife/partner first” or “can you be away from your children that long?” These are questions women are asked all the time. Individuals in the majority are rarely expected to change their manner of speech, appearance, and behavior to assimilate into the workplace. Whereas folks in marginalized groups are having to consider how they are being portrayed so that it doesn’t further negatively affect other’s bias and misconceptions. Recognize your personal privileges and use that privilege to create a safer, more inclusive and equitable workplace for your staff.
7. If They Don’t Align, Then Don’t Give A Dime
Take a lesson from Disney, who is now being called out for their donations to every Republican Senator who sponsored the “don’t say gay” bill. Who your organization gives money to is a reflection of your values. The phrase “put your money where your mouth is” truly applies. In addition to the Lesbians Who Tech & Allies Pride Summit, there are a litany of worthy organizations that will not only show your support to the LGBTQ+ community, it will also make for a more diverse and productive workplace.