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Are Your LGBTQ+ Employees "Proud" Enough of Your Culture?

How do prospective employees know that your enterprise truly accepts, embraces, serves, promotes, and protects ALL identities? How can you prove it?

In The Best Place to Work, author Ron Friedman states that "it's rare for organizations to give much thought to whether their employees are proud of their workplace, yet the implications are profound." He goes on to list the benefits of a truly "proud" workforce such as:

  • Greater employee loyalty

  • Lower turnover

  • Better word of mouth to friends and acquaintances

  • Enhanced organizational reputation

Organizational pride is crucial under normal circumstances. Now imagine its' importance in attracting and retaining those from marginalized backgrounds.

Intersectional diversity and inclusion are not only sourcing, developing, and promoting greater gender and ethnic diversity, but also ensuring that intersectional identities are considered just as valuable as the "easy" numbers. Skin color, gender, disability, and sexual orientation all combine and impact intersectional individuals as a potential discrimination multiplier.

This is why both the "D" and the "I" matter as discrete pieces of work and should not be blended or confused as the same effort.

Employees who belong to multiple underrepresented categories experience oppression and lack of opportunity in a myriad of ways. From the HBR, "employees who identify in ways that do not conform to the norms used to define and categorize them at work are more likely to feel marginalized, and even threatened." For people of intersectional identities, self-identifying to help companies identify their specific brand of diversity is complex. This is why the movement to declare and own one's unique pronouns is not "woke" - it's profound and game-changing. From the moment an individual openly declares their "otherness" - they open themselves up to potential ridicule, shame, misunderstanding, judgement, and discrimination. But widespread pronoun use can also be a crucial sign-post to an organization's inclusiveness.

To what degree does your company:

  • Accept and embrace all identities

  • Amplify voices and seek multiple perspectives

  • Support different styles of living and being

How can you prove it?

In the midst of the Civil Rights Movement - many Blacks who had to traverse the country carried around a Green Book (aka The Negro Motorist Green Book) which provided them with advice on safe places to eat and sleep. This was an essential travel document that saved lives in a dangerous time for Blacks. What the authors of the Green Book understood was that 1) they could and would not live in fear and stay confined to their locales and 2) they would map out the safe places and build institutional knowledge that kept more of their people safe as they ventured out to where were the greatest opportunities.

Other than corporate websites and personal connections, there is no such resource for prospective intersectional employees to know which companies are go/no go in this era of performative allyship. Your employees are now the best "green book" to attract more intersectionality to your enterprises. But they will only do so if the company truly walks the talk. If your company doesn't do the J.E.D.I. work, then a room for rent sign post is not going to trick anyone into taking a chance on your company.

Friedman defines pride as, "the pleasurable feeling that we get when we reflect upon achieving a socially desirable outcome, one that elevates our standing within our group." Based on this definition, to be proud is quite a leap from being marginalized, repressed, or excluded. And therefore, to foster pride, an organization must take pains to truly uplift, highlight, and value different identities. Friedman found that there are four primary building blocks of organizational pride:

  1. A grand narrative: This is from:to storytelling on a vast scale where the (hopefully) inspiring tale of where the company has been and where it is going is crystallized and cascaded to all.

  2. Group distinctiveness: This is what separates being a part of this organization from everyone else. It's the elevator speech your employees will talk about at dinner parties and while on vacation.

  3. A commitment to the greater good: When an organization does well and does good - this permeates positively the feeling of doing the work.

  4. The conviction that every member counts: This is why servant leadership principles are once again in vogue in businesses around the world. In the servant leadership style - it is the employee base who are the true value creators of an organization and are celebrated as such.

This #pridemonth - if your organization isn't intentionally building the blocks of pride for employees, it's time to get to work!

"There will be a day sometime in the near future when this guide will not have to be published. That is when we as a race will have equal opportunities and privileges in the United States. It will be a great day for us to suspend this publication for then we can go wherever we please, and without embarrassment.” ~ The Negro Motorist Green Book

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