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How Organisations and Employees Can Contribute to Pride in a Meaningful Way

Summer is here and it is officially Pride Month. Across the world, the LGBT+ community are both celebrating and taking part in an important ritual that harks back to the Stonewall Riots of 1969 – of reminding the world we exist, we are valuable, we refuse to be invisible, and we deserve the same rights as everybody else. It is both a political statement and a party, a chance to celebrate your queerness in a world that often tries to silence it. To be proud of what you’ve often been told to be ashamed of.

 

During this time we also see a number of corporations dip into the fray, with sometimes misguided, sometimes baffling results.

 

While it’s admirable for organisations to want to support Pride, or even to cater to an LGBT+ demographic with Pride products, it must be done with care and respect, otherwise a well-intentioned effort can come across tasteless, or even offensive.

 


 

Know Why We Celebrate Pride

 

Before you put on your glittering speedo and jump in the parade, it’s important to know just why the LGBT+ community celebrates Pride. Educate yourself on the community’s history.

 

This year is the fiftieth anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. On the morning of June 28, 1969, the police raided the Stonewall Inn, a well-known gay bar in New York City. Sick and tired of these continued raids and of being treated with no respect or regard, the gay people of New York City revolted. Many report it was Marsha P Johnson, an African American drag queen and activist, who threw the first brick. What followed were riots all through the city that lasted days. This event is what many considered the starting point of the gay liberation movement. That day was later commemorated as the Christopher Street Liberation Day, and the first Prides were born.

 

Every year since then the LGBT+ community have marched in demand of rights and respect. Pride wasn’t born out of a desire to party, but of a need to be free.

 

There are several resources available to you to learn more about LGBT+ history:

The Proud Trust

LGBT History Month

LGBT History



 

Learn About Issues Currently Facing the Community

 

The fight for LGBT+ rights is not one that is relegated to history. While this past year has seen some amazing achievements - India decriminalised homosexuality, Taiwan became the first Asian country to legalise same-sex marriage, Hong Kong gave visas to same-sex spouses, and America elected its first openly gay state governor – there have been a number of atrocities that have afflicted our community as well.

 

Just a week ago a lesbian couple were attacked on a bus in London by a group of straight men who wanted to see them kiss. Research has shown hate crimes have more than doubled over the past 4 years in England and Wales alone.

 

In May, the world watched in horror as Brunei reinstituted the death penalty for gay people while districts in Malaysia continued their brutal crackdown on trans and gay people.

 

This week, the American Medical Association issued a warning that the trans community was facing an“epidemic of violence…especially the amplified physical dangers faced by transgender people of colour.”

 

“According to available tracking, fatal anti-transgender violence in the U.S. is on the rise and most victims were black transgender women,” said Dr. S. Bobby Mukkamala.

 

“The number of victims could be even higher due to under reporting, and better data collection by law enforcement is needed to create strategies that will prevent anti-transgender violence.”

 


 

What Organisations Can Do Now

 

If you want your organisation to take part in Pride in a meaningful way, get to know the LGBT+ employees working with you right now. Take a moment to understand their concerns and be supportive. The Human Rights Campaign has an excellent guide on how to be an ally here. Aside from that there are a number of practical actions your organisation can do to show your support:


Organise Pride events at your offices and invite clients

It doesn't have to be a lavish affair, but a fun after work event for both clients and employees is a great way to make LGBT+ employees feel comfortable. This can even become a great networking opportunity and mixer for your clients. Our partner organisation Reed Smith are hosting one at the end of June. Bank of American Merryl Lynch also hosted a special event on the 4th of June with speaker Lady Phyll on the importance of BAME inclusion - more than a hundred people attended.


Organise an external Pride event that's open to the public

Open an event up to the public, put on a show. One of our member organisations, Philip Morris Limited, are hosting a great Pride party with a special comedy guest. While Salesforce, another of our partners, are putting on a fun night too, with DJs and drag queens. 


Support LGBT+ charities

There are a number of amazing LGBT+ charities that do incredible work for the community. From the Kaleidoscope Trust which supports LGBT+ human rights across the world, to Just Like Us which empowers young people to be LGBT+ role models. Trying to find a local charity? Try this Charity Navigator.


You could even combine hosting a Pride event with supporting an LGBT+ charity. Host a fundraiser, like one of our partners Macquarie have done numerous times. In mid-June they are hosting a "lunch and learn" event for the charity, Mermaids, an organisation that aims to help transgender children and their families. Reed Smith are taking part in the Shoelaces Campaign with Stonewall, distributing rainbow shoelaces to raise awareness of LGBT-acceptance in sports.


Launch an LGBT+ employee resource group

Create a space for your LGBT+ employees to meet and network, allow them to host events. Take a look at what AstraZeneca have accomplished.


March at a local Pride

Sign your organisation up for your local pride, march together as LGBT+ employees and allies.


Conduct a survey on LGBT+ employees and their wellbeing

And use the results from the survey to create a happier, more productive workplace.


Launch Pride campaigns at work

It can be as simple as colouring your logo in rainbow colours, like our partner organisations IG, the General Assembly and Isobar have done. Exhibit pride flags, have lanyards, flyers, or more.


Share your LGBT+ employees' stories

Film video testimonials and share quotes from your LGBT+ employees. Give them a voice and make them feel heard and visible. Take part in AZPride's video campaign, include allies as well.

 

There are many ways organisations can support Pride and their LGBT+ employees, but it all starts with open communication and a willingness to educate yourself. Take a moment to learn about the community’s history, our unique issues and problems, find a local charity that you could contribute to, persuade your organisation to host a pride event, launch a resource group, or do any of our other suggestions. All of these actions can contribute to a meaningful and supportive Pride experience for your LGBT+ employees. Any one of them can make a world of difference.



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