Hard-won advances for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, and other communities are increasingly under threat. Discriminatory laws, norms, and practices are denying LGBTQIA+ people their autonomy, access to health care, reproductive rights, and choices.
An equitable workplace depends on recognizing the inequities that exist in our larger world, and more importantly, taking action to disrupt them. With that in mind, the theme for 2023’s International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia is “Together Always: United in Diversity.”
Here are some ways you can ensure you are enhancing your solidarity for the LGBTQIA+ communities every day at your organization. We offer this as a foundational set of ‘Dos’ rather than an exhaustive list.
DO: Embed your commitment to LGBTQIA+ equity, inclusion, and belonging within and through your communications, internal and external. Ensure the examples and images you use don’t perpetuate stereotypes.
DO: Be prepared to challenge homophobic and transphobic ideas and behaviors amongst colleagues and peers. Some of these include the idea that Trans Women shouldn’t play sports alongside Cis Women that Gender neutral bathrooms are dangerous for Cis Women or that positions Bisexual folks as ‘greedy’ or ‘indecisive’.
Be ready to have challenging, compassionate, and focused discussions with others to share with them why such ideas are inequitable, exclusionary, and further cissexism. Our helpful guide on “How to Respond to Transphobia” may come in handy!
DO: Actively seek to recruit LGBTQIA+ folks into your organization through partnering with LGBTQIA+ employee networks and organizations, posting your role openings on job boards that focus on the LGBTQIA+ community, such as Pink Jobs, LGBTConnect, or the Transgender Job Bank, and joining LGBTQIA+ recruitment events.
Actively interrogate how and where negative narratives and discourses about LGBTQIA+ folks could play out in your recruitment processes to prevent equity for candidates. You may want to write these down as a checklist (alongside other narratives that often show up for marginalized candidates) so that interviewers discussing candidates can see if these show up in the deliberations.
DO: Create a “Transitioning at Work Policy” and a road map for supporting Trans employees transitioning at work.
Think about: accessing entitlements and considerations, guidelines for line managers, internal comms, updating employee records (such as logins and emails) and profiles; and remember – the timescales, activity, and communication should be led by the choices of the person transitioning. There are many model policies available for free that you can research before starting your own.
DO: Ensure that the wording of employee benefits, such as health insurance (in the US), does not make these benefits exclusive to Heterosexual and Cisgender folks and provides benefits specifically for the needs of Transgender employees. If employees experience different tax treatment from other employees for their benefits, then compensate them for that.
DO: Recognise heterosexism as “your issue” if you are heterosexual. Heterosexism affords benefits, power, and privileges to Heterosexual folks, and is therefore their responsibility to disrupt it.
DO: Recognise cissexism as “your issue” if you are Cisgender. Cissexism affords benefits, power, and privileges to heterosexual folks, and is therefore their responsibility to disrupt it.
DO: Be ready to put something on the line. Solidarity with LGBTQIA+ people ultimately has to be disruptive – disruptive of the systems that marginalize these communities. And that means it has to cost something to non-LGBTQIA+ folks.