“It’s not all just about Pride.”
Yesterday, November 15, marked the first day of Trans Awareness Week (and Stand Up Awareness Week), so we want to examine all kinds of ways to be a good ally, starting in the workplace.
Many suggestions for this topic came from an interview with Philippa Ryder, an inspiring Irish Trans woman and author of My Name Is Philippa, and the rest were pooled from other LGBTQ+ contributors.
Symbols around the office
Have LGBTQ+-friendly signage around the office. “If somebody is unwilling or unable at the present time to come out,” said Philippa, “if they see a rainbow symbol, they will be empowered, hopefully, and when it’s right for them, they will be able to come out safely and positively.”
Set up a Diversity and Inclusion Committee
Or instate an equality officer in your workplace. “We set [a committee] up,” Philippa told GCN, “and pretty much right from the beginning, we were getting cis people as allies and in fact, at one point, it was 50/50, between the LGBTQ+ members of the committee and cis people. Some of those cis people were just incredible. They were so passionate.”
Ask about pronouns
If you work somewhere that uses name badges, give employees the option to include their pronouns so that everyone knows how to address them correctly. If you work remotely, encourage staff to use pronouns in their labels at virtual meetings on Zoom or Teams if they so choose. Create a culture in your workplace where it’s okay to ask and volunteer pronouns, particularly when introducing new members of staff.
In the hiring process, make it clear that you are an Equal Opportunity employer and you’re eager to hire diversely. Highlighting this in your job ad or at the top of an application form means you’re more likely to get LGBTQ+ applicants and they’re more likely to feel comfortable in your workplace.
Attend marches, protests and workshops as a company
Bring in experts to provide training and workshops to your staff on inclusion, but on company time. Do not run these sessions after hours or during lunch breaks, leaving the onus on employees to find time to participate.
Provide dedicated time to Trans and LGBTQ+ allyship in the workplace. Equally, attend marches and protests as a company, showing staff that LGBTQ+ rights are a matter of priority.
“It’s not all just about Pride,” Philippa says, referring to the phenomenon of ‘corporate Pride’. “It’s not all about, you know, June every year. You need to be thinking about it all the time. And if you see or hear some sort of discrimination going on, call it out, to ensure that your LGBTQ+ colleagues actually have the support from you, visible support.”
Take the time to learn about what it means to be Trans and include Trans voices in the media you consume. There are tonnes of online resources you can access for information, starting with TENI.ie, to learn more about your Trans colleagues and how you can support them.
And Philippa’s final piece of advice: “Education, raising awareness… It’s a case of just accepting your Trans colleagues for who they are.”
Well said, Philippa.
© 2021 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.
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