Look at your life. How many LGBT+ people do you know? How many do you call close friends? Okay, now let’s narrow that down a little. How many trans people do you know? How many do you call close friends? Let’s narrow it down one more dimension: how many trans people do you work with?
I ask that as someone who spent 15 years in corporate America before launching this company, I realize that most companies don’t have the benefit of representation. I worked at several companies where I did not know one other queer person. I even worked at one that said to me, “you checked a few boxes for us.”
That lack of representation means there are rarely advocates pushing for change. When there are no advocates, change is unlikely. Truth is, most people won’t change unless they either know someone who can change their mind or they’re educated.
Change is a Full-Time Job
If you have ever tried to push this boulder, you know. In fact, this type of education is one of the more frequent asks I’m getting. ERG, HR, and talent teams realize it’s not just about putting pronouns in email signatures.
They need training because they’re the ones getting the questions. They’re the ones running polls of the company and feeling humiliated by the results that show most of the people in this organization don’t understand who they are. They’re the ones still trying to get a gender neutral bathroom or benefits to cover their transitions all while taking questions that border on inhumane from colleagues in the name of curiosity.
Oh, and throwing a month worth of parties once a year to “celebrate.” One friend recently joked they had a day job and a gay job.
Celebrate Pride Month Without the Burnout
It’s too much labor for any team, let alone people who are trying to take on full-time jobs while advocating for others. So let me start this by saying thank you. Thank you to the people who take on this extra “gay job” and advocate on behalf of others. You are incredible and you really do change the world little by little. I know you can’t feel the momentum, but this can change entire lives.
I went out and talked to a few of those people to learn what they’re doing for Pride Month this year and compiled a list you can use. You don’t need to do all the work *and* be super creative.
- Coming Out Party. Invite everyone – even families – to a celebration of coming out. Then, provide break out rooms where people can talk about topics important to them. Most people came out with a lot of shame and this celebration can be healing. I did a virtual one a few weeks ago and it was amazing.
- Executive Education. I don’t want to go into the whole “they’re from a different time” thing, but you cannot roll out things like email signature updates without educating executives on why it’s important.
- Candidate Experience. Audit the candidate experience for moments where we can be more inclusive. Think introductions, ATS, and interviews. Read more on that topic.
- Training. Talent teams and the entire company need their own training on what pronouns are and how to speak about it with the people they influence. (If you’re nodding, call me. I can help).
- Conversations. Bring a mix of employees and external experts together to have real conversations – not the overly rehearsed “next question” stuff. I’m talking storytelling and sharing experiences that help build understanding.
What types of events did you love during Pride Month? Are there any you would ban? Post them in the comments for other allies, advocates, or LGBT+ people who want to help.
Katrina Kibben is the Founder and Principal Consultant of Three Ears Media. For most of Katrina’s career, she has been a marketer living in a recruiter’s world – listening to both sides of the talent equation to understand the real issues and find solutions for engaging and hiring better people. Today, she uses her technical marketing know-how and way with words to help both established and emerging brands develop and deliver content that fuels smart recruitment marketing that makes the right people apply.
Katrina has written for Monster.com, HR.com, RecruitingDaily and many other digital publications. She is a recognized leader in recruiting and employer branding who speaks regularly at conferences around the world.