Every June 1st, social media logos see a miraculous transformation. Just like Dorothy landing in OZ, suddenly colours and rainbows are everywhere. Rainbow logos are the symbols of support of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Queer (LGBTQ+) community… at least until about June 30. Because then, as the month comes to an end, those logos vanish, back into the closet for another year.
This year, perhaps more than ever, it is important to show commitment to actually making the world a better place, and if we truly believe that equality and inclusion are needed, we have to follow words with action. The changes necessary to improve the world require working for the long-term.
These changes also need to across the board of under-represented groups. LGBTQ+ issues are not separated from disability issues, from women’s issues, from race issues. It is crucial to work across the board on all of them.
And remember, this is not a trial to the intentions. We might be doing something we think is good until someone points out its limitations and errors. And when that happens, we must listen, especially when someone is discussing their lived experiences, and how what we put out online makes them feel. Confronting our mistakes might not feel great when it happens, but it will be worth it in the long run.
If you want to mark Pride Month earnestly, you first need to consider how to make supporting underrepresented groups one of your core missions. This might be a daunting task but fortunately, this can be broken down in simple steps.
First, start from your employees. What varying types of support do they need? You could then consider your clients and customers. It is important to remember that no community is monolithic in its thinking and needs, so your solutions have to be varied.
A crucial thing to do is to foster a gender-neutral environment from toilets, to the language in documents. English is suited for this, and it is time to replace the clunky “s/he” and “her/his” with the simpler “they” and “their”. Make sure that everyone in your teams have had training in inclusion and that you enforce a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to harassment and discrimination.
Are members of your organizations from underrepresented identities empowered to lead? Are they in an environment where they feel they belong and can thrive? Ask yourself these questions and how you can help make your workplace better and more inclusive.
Statements of support for Pride Month, especially if you haven’t done one before, need to have actionable plans. An easy start is supporting an LGBTQ+ charity or group. Commit to a first step, achieve it, and think how to improve on that.
Honesty goes a long way. Commit to understanding what can you do better. This will be more worthwhile to you and people in your organization than simply flying the rainbow flag for one month out of twelve.
Dr. Alfredo Carpineti is the chair and founder of Pride in STEM, the largest charitable trust in the UK dedicated to showcasing and supporting LGBTQ+ people in STEM. Pride in STEM is one of the organisers of The International Day of LGBTQ+ people in STEM which will take place on November 18.