Coming out at work – reflections of Pride 2022

Coming out at work can be one of the most daunting experiences for an employee. There are no set rules around this. Who do they tell? It’s their private business after all. Although it is the individual’s very personal experience, they should not be made to feel that anyone they work with will think any differently towards them. They need to be assured that there is support from their colleagues and management. That said, there are a few important things employers can do to help.

How can workplaces become more inclusive?

Employers must be sure to create an environment of equality and inclusivity that is welcoming to all and where anyone can speak freely about who they are. Employers should also be aware that certain employees may be hesitant to share their pronouns or sexuality. With this it is so important that if an employee trusts you with this information, you are led by their preferences.

Can training aid understanding?

Education within the workplace can help to break down barriers, forming new friendships with colleagues who may otherwise never meet. Be sure to reduce any negativity by educating your employees on the subject of inclusivity and equality.

What about LGBTQ+ workplace champions?

Consider establishing a person within your business who can be trusted as an ally that the employee can speak to. Maybe someone who has gone through the same experience themselves. However, do make sure that the individual is reliable and not the office gossipmonger. This person will know that sometimes the lead up to having the conversation with employers is worse than the actual conversation.

Reflecting on Pride month

Reflecting on Pride month earlier this year, I have seen so many posts from those who now feel comfortable enough to share their experiences. They all seem to be able to express how they have received messages of love and support from many connections. This is wonderful to see and only reinforces the need for Pride to be thought of year-round, not just to be thought of as a month to celebrate and change company logos.

In contrast, so many still continue to wear a mask or have a guard up whilst they are at work. We have all had experiences of working in toxic environments. These encounters have a way of staying with us. They knock our confidence levels, making us question our capabilities when we are more than enough. I have even seen confident and successful people walk away from their career. Something they have strived for. And why? Because of the environment they have found themselves in.

Why do we even need to talk about this at work?

We spend a majority of our time at work. More time with our colleagues and managers than we do our own friends and family. For this reason it is even more essential to feel comfortable in that environment. Everyone needs to feel that they belong whilst they’re at work. As a business owner, I can define my company culture, live to its values and practice HR in a way that my profession expects of me as a standard. This isn’t just as a foundation, it is at the heart of everything I do day to day. For any future employees who join me, I want them to feel welcome and free to be themselves, no matter what their background, orientation or person they choose to be. I love the individuality a new member of the team can bring and encourage them to let their personality shine.

Fostering an inclusive workplace culture that celebrates and educates diversity is essential. Create a culture where colleagues call out unacceptable behaviour. It is essential to supporting an environment where people can come to work as their entire selves.

Pride Month is more than just a once-a-year post with a rainbow flag. It is not a marketing exercise! It’s a year-round celebration, education, and inclusiveness without judgement. I’m proud to be a part of the positive changes in my professional life. I actively encourage employees who want to come out but are not sure how to start the conversation to seek the support out there to help. As well as supporting the work of the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development) with their calls to action to make workplaces more inclusive.

To those who want to support our LGBTQ+ colleagues; be an ally to your work colleagues – it really can make a difference.

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