The LGBTQIA+ community comes together across the world every year in June to celebrate Pride Month. While events actually take place over the summer, June was chosen to remember the Stonewall Riots that broke out in Greenwich Village, New York City, in summer 1969. ‘The Village’ had been a bohemian community since the 1920s, becoming a recognized haven for a growing artistic community with a gay vibe in the post war period. It attracted writers and artists like Dennis Selby, Jack Kerouac Dylan Thomas and Andy Warhol to work, live and love in the Village.
But celebrating Pride is much more than parades, floats, and rainbows. It's the importance of inclusion and diversity both in and out of the workplace. It’s about celebrating a history and heritage, the journey of struggle and success, but also understanding that much more needs to be realized because full equality has not yet been realized for those and many groups of people.
The notion of Pride isn't relegated to any one office, region or country. Sometimes, especially in progressive cities with supportive work environments, we forget that not everyone experiences the same level of freedom and support. In recognition of Pride month, we decided to take a look at what is the correlation between workforce diversity and company financial performance.
Workforce diversity = better company performance
So why has Pride become such a big thing in the workplace?
Research by McKinsey finds that companies in the top quartile for gender or racial and ethnic diversity are more likely to have financial returns above their national industry medians. Companies in the bottom quartile in these dimensions are statistically less likely to achieve above-average returns. And diversity is probably a competitive differentiator that shifts market share toward more diverse companies over time.
According to the Investment Association “Bringing our whole selves to work” report, a happy and inclusive workplace can raise sales by 37% and productivity by 31%.
Unfortunately, research by Stonewall revealed that more than a third of LGBTQIA+ workers (35%) have hidden their identity at work for fear of discrimination even though it was reported that over 25% productivity gain is achieved when LGBTQIA+ workers feel able to be open with all their work colleagues. In addition, the latest Stonewall Report of Britain’s Top 100 Employers for LGBTQ+ staff highlights that “the best employers understand that when people are forced to hide parts of their identity, their performance suffers”.
This fear is slowly becoming less common as employees are empowered by a more open and accepting working environment, but the fact remains: it’s still prevalent in many places of work.
Good news is that around 63% of Gen Z feels it’s important to work with people with diverse educational backgrounds and skill levels. An additional 20% believes that having people from various cultures is the most important element of a team.
With positive steps, companies can reflect a modern world within their workforce and play an important role in raising awareness of LGBTQIA+ issues more widely.
Tips for how your business can support your LGBTQIA+ workforce
Being inclusive means more than just obeying the law. Failure to take positive action for LGBTQIA+ people can harm a company's workforce, its reputation and growth.
Here are a few tips according to Stonewall that can help achieve that:
- Read up on terminology so you can talk about the issues confidently.
- Call out offensive, negative or abusive language and 'banter' when you hear it.
- Work with your HR department to make sure policies and procedures cover diversity, inclusion, rights and protections for LGBTQIA+ employees.
- Attend, sponsor and/or volunteer at your local Pride events.
- Organise a lunch and learn about LGBTQIA+ history, stories or experiences. Open up space to talk – you could mention LGBTQIA+ issues you've seen in the media and get some real conversations started.
- Celebrate LGBT History Month every February or other awareness days and campaigns to show support.
- Use a rainbow mug or wear rainbow lanyards to show your support.
Employers are now waking up to the fact that, in order to succeed, they need their staff to feel confident to be themselves at work. Having an open and diverse working environment leads to higher levels of motivation, creativity and productivity.
This is something that every company should want. It’s good for employees, the business, and customers.