The percentage of U.S. adults who identify as LGBTQ+ has doubled in the last ten years to 7.2%, according to a recent Gallup Poll. Similar changes are taking place in other countries, with global acceptance slowly on the rise.
As more consumers and workers identify as LGBTQ+, it's important for companies to play active roles in accelerating equality for all. One way to do that is through allyship.
Becoming an ally means we must first show acceptance — in any room, virtual or in person, making sure everyone feels seen, heard, included and appreciated for who they are. That validation makes a difference — it offers a sense of pride.
Many people around the globe are celebrating Pride Month, a time to shine a spotlight on the LGBTQ+ community and promote self-affirmation, dignity, equality, acceptance and belonging in the workplace.
Over the last decade, businesses have increasingly invested in LGBTQ+ employees by adopting policies of protection and launching employee resource groups for specific support. That is crucial, but it is even more important for business leaders to go beyond what is specific and familiar — to activate allyship in work and in life.
Becoming an LGBTQ+ ally can be challenging, but there are specific things everyone can do. Here are four ways we are promoting LGBTQ+ equality and a more culturally inclusive workplace at Kyndryl:
1. Show your solidarity
Showing you are an LGBTQ+ ally goes beyond sharing your pronouns on your email, Microsoft Teams and LinkedIn profiles. And it goes beyond raising a pride flag — be a visible ally by being intentional and public about your support in every way you can in personal and professional settings.
2. Speak up
If you see something, say something. Let friends, family and colleagues know you will not stand for discrimination. Condemn harmful actions and words that go against affirming LGBTQ+ community members and amplify the tremendous societal contributions of this group.
3. Simplify and include
It’s important we don’t assume everyone in our personal and professional circles is straight or cisgender. Being conscious of comments, jokes, or even commonly used terms like “husband and wife” versus “spouse, partner and significant other” can help create a more inclusive culture for LGBTQ+ employees.
4. Seek information
It can be a challenge to know the right things to say if you do not have the right information. Take the steps to find out. Invite LGBTQ+ coworkers and friends to connect and talk about the need to overcome bias and correct closely held assumptions. You can also learn more on LGBTQ+ affirming sites and by attending a pride event.
Creating a Sense of Community
We’re encouraged to bring our best selves to work every day. That requires inclusive behavior that supports authenticity and community. It matters not only what we think but also what we do on behalf of others. We can listen and engage broadly. We can encourage others to stay open to and learn from diverse perspectives. By listening to our colleagues and sharing a willingness to talk, we can show up for LGBTQ+ coworkers and friends in an inclusive way.