Note to the reader – Few sections of this article have been crowdsourced from our team members. The views expressed in italics are subjective and in no way intends to generalize. The intent is to share voices and perspectives.
Every being is not ‘different’
…they are ‘unique’.
Be it with or without,
Simple or complex
In colour or clout …
Behavioural or facial,
Verbal or neural…
When June ended this year and as brands casually took down the rainbow filter from their logos, nobody could anticipate what would follow! Brands and the corporate sector got called out for their performative support towards the LGBTQ+ community. Certain global brands even got shamed for their passive and empty support, considering only a few of their LinkedIn company pages (most Middle East subsidiary’s LinkedIn pages did not reflect the change) had a rainbow version of the logo. With a number of discriminatory laws and regulations LGBTQ+ folks are subject to, this incident comes as no surprise! It’s clear now that no more can brands think changing logos for 30 days makes them appear to be an ally to a community that still fights for basic employment opportunities.
If you’re a brand that claims to be a true ally but does nothing concrete during the other 11 months to show support, it’s time to speak louder than rainbow logos!
Stop With The Gimmicks
“3 posts daily is a must!”
That’s what the manager wrote to his team in an email titled – ‘Pride Month Campaign ’ “The campaign has to be impactful to help people understand the discrimination happening around us but showcase our stand as a leader who is inclusive, considerate and respectful of the LGBTQ+. Yeah, be an ally!”, reads the body of the e-mail. He hits the send button, and receives an instant inflow of replies that agree with his views. The “big man” sits back, relaxed on his chair while he forwards a rather homophobic meme on their WhatsApp office group. Confusing ideologies? Deceptive and hypocritical might just be the exact cut.
People belonging to the LGBTQ+ community are irked with the steep rise of “rainbow capitalism” – the commercializing of LGBTQ+ movements. And so, it doesn’t take a social media analysis to identify a brand’s genuine efforts. Queer and trans people are present online 365 days! They’re watching your initiatives and messaging all year round.
If you boast of the “Equal Employer Tag” but don’t provide fair job opportunities to queer and trans folk as well, then you are simply not an equal employer. If you are “hiring for diversity” but aren’t inclusive in your policies, infrastructure and general work setup, you’re not “building a diverse workforce”. These gimmicks don’t work anymore as people can easily see through such half-hearted initiatives. Instead of grand announcements and rainbow merchandise, show your honest support by taking real action with tangible positive impact. All year round, leverage your influence in the industry to elevate and advocate human rights for all underrepresented communities. Take a conscious call against associating with institutions that are known to favor even partially homophobic or discriminatory practices at the workplace.
The greatest evidence of you being a diverse and inclusive company is when your values are reflected in your actions. That’s when society knows you practice what you preach!
Take Pride In Your Workforce
Another mundane Monday, Same place, same routine, Everything looked the same, but was it? My little secret was out in the open, And thanks to the obsession with live updates, Everyone I was hiding from, knew I wasn’t scared of being accepted, Or of being judged. I was scared of being stereotyped.
The day passed, so did the evening, I spent the Monday just the same. No weird glances, or awkward questions, No warm messages or words of sympathy. It wasn’t a mundane Monday after all. It was a regular day, but coming out as gay and not receiving any special treatment made it better.
One of the biggest workplace challenges is sensitizing the workforce to be empathetic and accepting of each one’s lives. Although regular gender sensitization workshops are held, the focus is mainly on women and very little attention is given to queer and trans professionals across the spectrum of gender identities and sexual orientations. It is crucial for all workplaces to make their employees aware of certain issues and how to react appropriately. Some queer and trans professionals may be comfortable with letting others know of their sexual orientation, while some prefer keeping it to themselves. And for this very reason, it is imperative to constantly nurture a safe and LGBTQ+ friendly work environment that treats each employee equally irrespective of their choices.
Make Your Efforts Honest
I would love to see brands build bridges not only for the LGBTQ+ community but also for the specially abled.
Do not do anything you do not genuinely mean, especially not for brand image and reputation. Show your genuine support by building bridges for the LGBTQ+ and for minority communities that your employees come from. Be the mediator between a society that yearns for equal rights and an institution that doesn’t acknowledge them for who they are. From incorporating LGBTQ+ advocacy into CSR practices and other outreach initiatives, to changing hiring practices, flesh out DE&I initiatives that are needed and can be achieved with sustainable efforts.
On a regular basis, start with creating awareness and then cementing it with sensitization workshops. She, they, he – using the right pronouns is essential in making everyone feel inclusive. More importantly, terms like cisgender, asexual, pansexual, etc should not be casually used unless you know what it stands for. Homophobic name calling or using derogatory terms in any form should be treated seriously – zero tolerance!
Companies are being future-ready by amalgamating distinctive perspectives and forward-thinking policies that serve as a foundation to love and respect different communicates and cultures. Are you one of them?
Disclaimer – Some of the views expressed are subjective and are not meant to generalize.