22nd August 2023
Guidance from an LGBTQIA+ Founder on Fostering Inclusivity in the Workplace
Drawing from personal experience, Dave Wilkin, emphasizes the importance of proactive allyship, urging leaders to vocalize support for LGBTQIA+ individuals both in and out of the closet. Intersectionality is highlighted during Pride Month, acknowledging the diverse challenges faced by different LGBTQIA+ and marginalized communities. The significance of mentoring and networking programs is underscored as a means to foster diversity from within, addressing biases and inequities. Additionally, leaders are urged to set aside their own experiences and truly listen to underrepresented groups to create a more inclusive workplace.
Almost a year ago, to the day of writing, I closed an investment in the company I built from the ground up. And as a gay entrepreneur who was born and raised in a small town, I can speak from experience that I would never have gotten to where I am today without having allies and a strong support system around me. My journey has led me to reflect deeply on what LGBTQIA+ inclusion really looks like in the workplace, as well as the specific actions we can (and should) take as leaders.
Since the investment, I’ve managed to identify four things that I believe every executive needs to know when they’re trying to create a more diverse and inclusive organization—even beyond Pride Month.
1. Silent allyship doesn’t cut it
You can’t be silent and also be an effective ally. I often find myself being the only openly LGBTQIA+ person in the room, but I know firsthand that you never know who around you hasn’t come out yet and might need your support. A 2018 survey found that 46% of LGBTQIA+ workers in the U.S. are closeted at work.
As leaders, we have a responsibility to make our allyship proactive and explicit for both those who are and aren’t out. You can’t just think it; you have to say it out loud. It’s crucial to directly acknowledge those who identify as LGBTQIA+ and vocalize support in front of an audience so that everyone can feel seen and heard. You truly never know who needs to feel a sense of acceptance from leadership until you start being outspoken.
2. Pride is a time of celebration—but not for everyone
Pride isn’t pride if it isn’t intersectional. Pride month has historically been treated as a time of celebration, but it’s important to remember that much of the LGBTQIA+ community is still fighting for their rights and freedoms.
Even though I identify as gay, I understand that as a white male, I have privileges that many other LGBTQIA+ folks don’t. From the trans community to the BIPOC community, there are so many people who face multiple visible (and invisible) barriers every single day. For these communities, Pride can still feel like a very scary time.
Do the work and look beyond your privilege to understand the role of intersectionality. Be intentional and raise up those who face multiple barriers by giving your time, making an effort to be an outspoken ally or even making monetary contributions.
Do you know an inspiring leader? Nominate them today: Inspiring Leaders Awards 2024.
Are you an inspiring workplace? Then register for the Inspiring Workplaces Awards 2024.
Join our community here, for free and access The Inspire Hub Forum to connect directly with your peers who share the same purpose.