Authors Note: In the article, I refer to the LGBTQIA2+ community as LGBTQ+ and the Community. This is not to downplay the diversity within the Community, but to create ease of readability.
When it comes to the matter of careers and a sense of belonging for the LGBTQ+ community, there is a gripe in the sense of equity, inclusion, and furthermore, belonging. To highlight these topics, I reached out to several other members of the LGBTQ+ community to lay out definitive and substantial ways jobs, brands, and corporations can support the LGBTQ+ communities.
Certain suggestions on this list are in progress, but are not available to the extent I desire. They are not fully represented in career spaces as they are desired. Making sure to also recognize and note this is imperative to ensure these processes continue and inspire.
Better Equitable Work Conditions
When looking for a job, many employees have a standard list of necessities – a 401(k), healthcare, a livable wage, etc. Increasing the living wage (this affects all marginalized), changing the ways insurance is provided to partners and their families, and expanding what healthcare covers are at the forefront of employees’ needs.
LGBTQ+ Policies and Training
While there are laws in some states requiring companies to provide inclusive training and policies for the workspace, it is not the standard. In order to make workspaces safer and more welcoming, companies must be more direct in addressing stigmas, biases, and prejudices. Being clear and constructive in the way that companies provide for the LGBTQ+ community is key to making the presence of allyship known.
Increase LGBTQ+ Representation
When I say increase representation, I don’t just mean more merchandise, ads, and “we’re with you’s (more on this in a moment). I am referring to the way companies, brands, and workspaces choose to associate with the LGBTQ+ community, not just with employees, but their customers, investors, etc. There are many ways to increase representation – ranging from adding pronouns to name tags and email signatures to including LGBTQ+ personnel, artists, and more in decision making.
PRIDE ≠ PROFIT
I see all too much, especially during Pride month, the “support” and “activism” by top name brands, companies, and organizations. It is common to see the logos of brands like Apple, Instagram, and McDonald’s change to the ever-so-known rainbow, just to revert to the original logo when the month ends. We also see a rise in merchandise that is directly in response to Pride month. This blatant guise of profit margin sheathed as (performative) activism needs to come to an immediate end. Should there be any donations from the profits of merchandise capitalizing on PRIDE, they should be substantial (we’re talking more than 5% here and 10% there). Include the creatives of the LGBTQ+ community should these companies want to do adverts, campaigns, and otherwise and pay them appropriately to industry standard. Ensure that LGBTQ+ voices are uplifted, having speakers, representatives, and activists in the public eye. Then use your publicity and platform to inform and really put to light many of the issues the LGBTQ+ community faces.
Support the Small Brands
While this isn’t particularly a way to “better” the top dogs of the career world, it is just as important. A major part of being an ally or supporting a community is to support its members. Many creatives have businesses, brands, and spaces of their own. Doing the work to not only uplift these spaces, but also buying from and supporting them not only funds individuals and their needs, but in effect will push money back into the very communities it has been restricted from for so long. Long story short, buy small brands.
There are hundreds, if not thousands of ways to show support and uplift the LGTBTQ+ community. This list exists solely to bring to light issues that not only myself, but other members of the Community deal with when it comes to navigating the career world. Diversity, Equity, and just as importantly, Inclusion all start by taking the steps to ensure proper representation for all. There is always room for discussion of these matters, which is how employers can get the ball rolling with the Community advocating for change.