How to Be an Ally to LGBTQIIA+ Co-Workers

Many of us may be unaware of the fact that members of LGBTQIIA+ community often feel unseen and unheard in workplaces. With mindful thinking and genuine effort, we can help create a more positive, supportive and welcoming workplace for all workers, especially those a part of the LGBTQIIA+ community! Below are some honest and helpful tips that workers can consider and use to help create a more accepting workplace for those a part of the LGBTQIIA+ community.

To begin, it is important to remember that educating yourself on topics you may not know too much about is most important to avoid any hurt feelings and/or discrimination. That being said, educate yourself on what the LGBTQIIA+ community is and read up on personal experiences of those a part of the LGBTQIIA+ community, whether they are personal anecdotes from the workplace or personal life in general. Knowing how to go about conversations with those a part of the LGBTQIIA+ community will allow for respectful and enlightening conversations to take place, allowing those members to feel more accepted and comfortable in an environment that often feels intimidating.

If you see something, say something! The oldest rule in the book and yet, it is still the most useful tip years later! If you see and/or hear any inappropriate jokes being made, hurtful language being used towards LGBTQIIA+ community members, workplace bullying surrounding the LGBTQIIA+ community etc., stand up for your co-workers and say something. Oftentimes, members of the LGBTQIIA+ community feel vulnerable in workplaces, leaving them more susceptible to mistreatment from management and/or co-workers. Don’t be afraid to step in and let your co-workers know that you’re on their side – you are here to support anyone a part of the LGBTQIIA+ community and you are here to help protect and prevent any future LGBTQIIA+ mistreatment in the workplace.

When you are a part of a higher management team, it is easy to get lost and occupied in the great amounts of work and tasks at hand. With that being said, it is important to still remember your role as higher management. The safety and well-being of your co-workers is just as important in order to create a flourishing work environment. If you, as a higher management worker, witness and/or are informed of any mistreatment towards LGBTQIIA+ co-workers, take immediate action. Discrimination against any minority and marginalized group is unacceptable in any workplace. As such, enforcing rules that prevent discrimination against margnilized groups, such as the LGBTQIIA+ community, is extremely effective when creating an accepting workplace for LGBTQIIA+ members.

Set aside your own biases and/or internalized discrimination towards the LGBTQIIA+ community. Personal beliefs and feelings are important and effective ways to communicate who you are as a person. Despite this, it is important to remember that we sometimes have internalized biases/opinions that can be hurtful to others when expressed. Therefore, before stepping into your workplace, plead good riddance to any biases or negative opinions you have towards the LGBTQIIA+ community! Instead, refocus the negative opinions towards more neutral, welcoming opinions. By doing so, you will make your LGBTQIIA+ co-workers feel less vulnerable and more accepted in the workplace.

Don’t be afraid to speak. Whether it’s speaking up about mistreatment towards LGBTQIIA+ co-workers or simply sparking conversation with your LGBTQIIA+ co-workers, in both instances, you produce a positive outcome! When you spark and initiate conversation with your LGBTQIIA+ co-workers, you allow for possible friendships to flourish, you allow for possible personal-growth instances to occur and you simply allow your co-workers to feel recognized and appreciated in an environment that sometimes feels the complete opposite towards LGBTQIIA+ members.

Support companies, co-workers and higher management that share the same values as LGBTQIIA+ ally’s and community members. Finding those who share the same values allows for more accepting workplaces and management to flourish. By coming together and protecting those who feel the most vulnerable, like LGBTQIIA+ co-workers may feel, we allow for an empowering and positive movement to take effect.

Expand your horizons and allow for more personal growth. By joining LGBTQIIA+ support groups and ally support groups, you allow for inclusion and education to take place! If your company does not already have support groups and educational practices in place for the LGBTQIIA+ community, step up and offer yourself the leadership role of implementing a group. By doing-so, you could possibly create and continue to participate in generating a more positive environment for your LGBTQIIA+ co-workers!

When greeting coworkers who are openly a part of the LGBTQIIA+ community, it is important to remember to use gender-neutral greetings. Many members of the LGBTQIIA+ community prefer to use gender-neutral pronouns as they feel their gender is not of  importance and such, we must remember to recognize and respect this! Use greetings such as “hi team” instead of “hi ladies and gentlemen” or use “they or themselves” instead of “he/her and/or he/herself”. Recognizing and implementing this simple step allows your LGBTQIIA+ coworkers to feel recognized and their preferences to feel appreciated.

Encourage positive discussion around your office. It is nice to know that you are interested in becoming educated on the LGBTQIIA+ community and are interested in becoming an ally. Self recognition of personal growth is honorable! To make it better, you can put yourself out there and encourage fellow co-workers to also include themselves in becoming ally’s towards their fellow LGBTQIIA+ co-workers! Encourage positive discussion around the topic, inform others on the positives that come along with becoming an ally and let others know that along with becoming an ally also comes a more welcoming and successful workplace for all!

Being a part of the LGBTQIIA+ community is something to own and to be proud of! And being an ally towards the LGBTQIIA+ community is something to own and be proud of! Even if you personally are not a member, there is absolutely no harm in educating yourself on the community and becoming an ally! By doing so, you are helping to create a more positive and welcoming environment for those who often feel discriminated against. Give yourself a pat on the back for becoming an ally and come together with your workplace to encourage the acceptance and support of the LGBTQIIA+ community and LGBTQIIA+ co-workers. An open-minded workplace is a workplace that is set up for success!

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Ana Lopes