How To Be A Proud Ally
It’s LGBT+ Pride Month! Though, you probably already noticed from the number of company logos that have been plastered with rainbow flags to show how ‘supportive’ and ‘inclusive’ they are. Some of these companies are diverse and inclusive and are doing a great job at supporting their people. However, year after year, we see performative companies and allies whack the rainbow flag on their merch and logos despite doing nothing to support their LGBT+ employees putting in the work day after day. These companies do not even consider how to be a proud ally.
Take Marks & Spencer, with their ‘LGBT’ sandwich, as an example of companies who got it wrong. Yes, M&S did donate to the Albert Kennedy trust, but as soon as Pride Month is over, where is the continued support for the community and their LGBT+ team members? M&S aren’t alone in this as there are countless other brands doing the same thing.
LGBT+ Pride Month should be more than just celebration. It should also be educational. Being a performative ally is not enough. More important is action, not only for the LGBT+ community but also for people of colour and for those with disabilities. And action goes a lot deeper than just changing the colours of your logo.
What an ally should be
Pride Month should be about supporting all LGBT+ employees. And this includes those who are not out due to fear of rejection from family or friends. We should make them feel comfortable inside and outside of the workplace and offer them a safe space. We must allow them to talk about how they feel and offer them what they need from us as an employer. It is our duty to ensure they can bring their most authentic selves to work. We must also remember that not everyone celebrates LGBT+ Pride as some people struggle to be proud of their sexuality or gender identity.
Allies hold an important place for the LGBT+ community. However, being an ally is more than just attending pride parades or claiming to be inclusive of LGBT+ people. It’s about taking action and speaking up for those who have been repressed or oppressed.
I have been contacted by numerous companies who have a Diversity + Inclusion group within their business wanting to celebrate LGBT+ Pride. However, they don’t know what to do as no one in the group is gay. This is an opportunity for businesses to take to show the power of allyship and that they are accepting of everybody within the organisation. In being an ally, you’re amplifying the voices of those who cannot be heard.
How can you be a good ally?
These tips on how to be a proud ally will provide a starting point for good allyship:
– Listen to those who are repressed and oppressed with an empathetic ear. Learning about the varied experiences of the community is key to becoming a good ally.
– Educate yourself! Never stop learning – education is key to being a good ally. Always make sure that if you are going to be a strong ally, you are backing this up with knowledge.
– Use whatever platform you have to help amplify the voices of the repressed. This includes not only social media platforms but also any platforms within your business groups and networks.
Being an ally isn’t just going to Pride and watching RuPaul’s Drag Race. Being an ally is being prepared to take action so that if someone is being bullied or harassed, you can help put an end to this behaviour. You should do this through whatever means suit the situation, from calling out inappropriate language to reporting issues to higher ups.
Remember that the LGBT+ community is incredibly varied, and not all gay people fit the ‘gay best friend’ stereotype. Get to know those within the community and learn how you can support them more by having better conversations.