How Companies Can Support LGBT+ Communities

by Nathan Halnin

Jun 23, 2020

Photo by Cecilie Johnsen on Unsplash

With Pride celebrations being cancelled this year due to COVID-19, a lot of companies will not be able to march onto the streets with their fellow LGBT+ employees. Although corporate companies joining in on Pride festivities have often raised questions, joining is a form of solidarity, and it is a good sentiment in reminding employees that a company is committed towards being inclusive. 

Over the past decade, corporate companies have begun to be more vocal about their support of LGBT+ communities. This is evident with companies updating their logos to include the rainbow, which symbolizes Pride. In addition, brands have also started sharing the perspectives of LGBT+ employees in the company, and building off of these experiences to state how their company embraces these differences and qualities.

While all of these actions are admirable, they only capture what most corporate companies tend to follow. All companies, both large and small, can participate in Pride by supporting LGBT+ members in various ways. Whether it is in the workplace, or the entire community, there are plenty of ways companies can support employees, even beyond Pride Month.

In The Workplace

Creating a workplace environment where everyone can feel secure in being who they are is the most important step. In order to achieve this, it’s important for all employees to be treated equally. One of the best ways to foster a workplace environment that supports inclusion is to brief employees about proper ways of addressing members of the LGBT+ community. 

While most people may already be aware of the simple concept of providing everyone in the workplace with respect, some individuals may come from cultures where being queer is frowned upon. In some circumstances, some may voice their concern as to why Pride has significance, but educating these individuals about its history and why it is important to LGBT+ members is an important step in creating a healthier work environment where everyone can feel safe. 

Some companies have created specialized programs where members who associate themselves with the LGBT+ community can join together and educate their fellow colleagues. Companies can follow this approach since this is important in making members feel more comfortable being themselves at work. 

Of course, in order to even achieve an inclusive workplace, it is important to emphasize the importance of hiring staff members from a diverse background. This also includes hiring individuals from the LGBT+ community, but it is important to note that not all employees are always comfortable in disclosing their affiliation with the LGBT+ community. 

In addition, companies should also avoid the concept of tokenism, which only aims to “fill a gap” by hiring someone from a certain background only for the company’s own gain. Often, it may be difficult to draw the line between hiring someone for the sole purpose of tokenism, but it is a good practice for employers to ask themselves if they are hiring someone because of the talents they possess, or if it is only for their company’s benefit of being able to say they are inclusive in a forced way.

Outside of the Workplace

Photo by Brian Kyed on Unsplash

While supporting LGBT+ employees in the workplace is important, companies also have the capacity to reach a larger scope by providing assistance to LGBT+ communities around them. While companies certainly vary in size, the magnitude of how they can help varies, but this does not take away from the fact that all companies can contribute in one way or another. 

One of the key ways that companies can contribute is to donate to local LGBT+ organizations and charities. These charities offer a wide array of services, some of which include counseling services to LGBT+ youth, as well as helping individuals escape violence and persecution from other countries for being LGBT+. 

Listed below are some local Toronto organizations that support LGBT+ communities. These are just a few notable charities that provide helpful services, but there are plenty of others which also provide the same support.

The 519 is a charitable organization that provides support to LGBT+ members by providing counseling services, as well as inclusion workshops for companies and organizations. 

Rainbow Railroad is a Canadian charity that provides assistance and resources to international LGBT+ members who are facing possible violence or prosecution in their home countries. 

Casey House is another charitable organization that focuses on providing assistance and support to individuals living with HIV/AIDS, including LGBT+ members. This organization is Canada’s only stand-alone hospital for individuals living with HIV/AIDS, and it takes a compassionate approach in reducing the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS. 

To see more Canadian LGBT+ charitable organizations, please check out this article from Yohomo

It is crucial to emphasize the importance of supporting these communities, because for companies, these are the same communities where some of its employees come from. 

Even though Pride Month puts a focus on LGBT+ communities, it is important to remember that providing support to these communities can be done at any time, and both companies and individuals have the capacity to reach out and help, even when Pride Month is over.