Pride is Not Just a One-Month Celebration. It's a Priority All Year Long
At SmartRecruiters, we’re on a mission to make our workplace the best it can be, and that includes ensuring we are an open, inclusive and diverse employer. We’re enjoying celebrating Pride because it’s a great way to promote awareness and equality within the company as well as increase understanding of the issues faced by those in the LGBTQ+ community. Our commitment to Pride, however, goes beyond just this month, and we’re working to ensure our colleagues feel safe, happy and included within our workplace.
We spoke to Shawn, an Associate Product Designer based out of San Francisco. He told us about his journey with SmartRecruiters, what Pride means to him, and how we’ve enabled a culture of openness and understanding. Here’s his story:
Beyond the Rainbow Logo: Celebrating Pride with Purpose
I joined SmartRecruiters three years ago and have also been leading our Pride Employee Center of Influence (ECOI) for almost a year now. In that time, we’ve held various events, including lunch and learns, presentations, panel discussions and more.
Previously, I had an experience with a Pride Employee Resource Group (ERG) at an internship, where I participated in a panel where people shared their stories of coming out. It was really impactful, so when I came here, I knew I wanted to be part of leading that conversation and helping others’ voices be heard.
Pride in the Workplace
We all see the rainbow logos and posts from companies throughout June to acknowledge Pride Month. And this is important because celebrating Pride as a company affirms to your LGBTQIA+ employees that they're safe in their workplace. Many countries around the world still don't protect them from workplace discrimination and some even punish people in the community for existing, so just knowing that they are safe is key. But Pride Month cannot be the only time of the year that this is a priority.
Companies need to practice what they preach. If they’re going to turn their logos into a rainbow for the month, they better be doing something for their people, whether it’s programming or offering support in some way. Organizations must show their commitment through actions in the community.
Why We Celebrate
While it’s great to celebrate Pride and bring visibility to the community, it’s important to remember that the first Pride was a riot. Part of being able to celebrate Pride Month is becoming educated on the history of how it came to be. It's easy to wave a rainbow flag, but you have to really remember what is behind that and the people who fought for your right to wave it. For those outside the community, this involves understanding what those who identify in the LGBTQIA+ community have gone through and continue to experience. So how can you do this? Through allyship.
Here are a few key ways to show your support to the LGBTQIA+ community:
Identify Yourself as a Supporter of the Community
A great start is using Pride Month to raise your hand as an ally by attending events, wearing Pride shirts, writing a social media post or whatever it may be to show your support. By doing this, you are showing others they have a safe place to be themselves around you.
Understanding the LGBTQIA+ Experience
There are a lot of aspects of being part of the LGBTQIA+ community that may be misunderstood. One example is when people talk about coming out, it’s often spoken about as a one-time thing, but that's not the reality. The reality is that you're coming out all the time in conversations with coworkers where you want to mention that you and your partner did something together over the weekend or speaking on a panel about your experiences in the community. It’s a constant experience to have to question, “Is this person safe to come out to? Can I talk about my partner or my identity? Do I have to change my wording and pronouns to feel safe, especially in the workplace?” This is one of the reasons we need to know that our workplace is safe so we can talk to our colleagues in an authentic way and bring our true selves to work.
A high-impact and simple way to show respect to members of the community is using the correct pronouns. This may be intimidating to some, so the first step is to become educated on what pronouns are out there and why it’s important to use them. If you have friends who use unfamiliar pronouns and maybe you're a little bit confused, just ask them. Many people will be open to telling you why that pronoun is important to them and how you can best respect their boundaries.
Finally, if you mess up, learn how to correctly handle it. Everyone is learning, everyone is going to experience this. If you use the wrong pronouns with someone, say a quick sorry, use the right pronoun and move on with the conversation. A lot of times when people make a mistake, they turn it into a big deal in front of others, which puts the affected person in an uncomfortable situation. It's okay to make mistakes. Acknowledge it, correct yourself and move on. And if you really feel like you made a big mistake, addressing it with them in private later on is usually the better option.
Finally, an important way for an ally to be supportive is, if you see or hear something that's out of line, you should be the one calling it out. Often, the person that is subject to whatever's going on is not in the position to speak back.
Celebrating Pride at SmartRecruiters
This year at SmartRecruiters, we're doing a big Pride Month celebration. Our main event is The Queer Vaudeville Showcase, which will feature performers who then share their experiences and educate us a bit on why it's important to celebrate Pride. We’ll also be providing an opportunity for people to ask questions, so it will be fun but also informational.
In addition to the event, there are a few other ways our Pride ECOI members have committed to creating a meaningful celebration beyond the rainbow logos:
- We’ll be sharing resources with information on how people can get involved within their local communities, such as Pride events and parades. Especially with a remote workforce, we believe it's important to give people the tools to be able to celebrate on their own.
- We’re sending out free SmartRecruiters Pride t-shirts to everyone who wants one so they can celebrate and show their support virtually. Especially in the times of COVID and with remote work in general, it's really important that we make a concerted effort to create a sense of community.
- Our ECOI members have voted to contribute a portion of our budget to the Ali Forney Center to aid LGBTQIA+ homeless youth.
People spend a lot of their time at work, so creating that opportunity for connection is more important than ever. You’re offering your people a sense of belonging, even if they’re not sitting together in an office. In global companies like ours, some team members may even be living in areas where Pride is not celebrated, so creating that space at work and giving them the opportunity to connect with other people is critical.
Join SmartRecruiters, Bring Your True Self to Work
If you’re feeling inspired and want to work in a company that enables you to feel comfortable being your truest self, we may have an opportunity for you.
By Shawn Fleming
Associate Product Designer
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