Pride Month typically serves as a reminder for organizations to create a welcoming culture for LGBTQIA+ employees, however, these efforts should be applied year-round.

A recent study from EY found that LGBTQIA+ employees believe diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) equates to a culture that focuses on belonging. And a second survey from Deloitte underscored that nearly 40% of LGBTQIA+ employees are actively considering changing employers to find one with a more inclusive culture. Implementing DEI strategies that allow employees to show up to work as their authentic selves can serve as a differentiator for organizations in the eyes of new talent.

This culture of belonging can be activated through organizational allyship, which translates into ensuring your employees feel safe, valued, and supported. There are several best practices organizations can use to foster an inclusive workplace:

Bridging the Internal With External for Improved Inclusion

The divide between work and home is not as clear as it once was – making it all the more important for employers to make space for conversations on what happens outside of the workplace that impacts employee well-being inside the workplace, even if they are not the most comfortable topics. This fosters an inclusive environment of continuous learning for employees and sends a strong message to prospective talent about an organization’s values.

Similarly, meaningfully acknowledging nationwide diversity observances, like Pride Month, showcases how your organization uplifts certain individuals. However, supporting diverse talent, including the LGBTQIA+ community, should extend beyond these moments to build allyship and belonging – such as making room for conversations around current news impacting employees, teaching employees how to be allies through ongoing education, partnering with nonprofit organizations, or integrating discussions across certain moments in time such as, recognizing individuals that are Black and LGBTQIA+ during Black History Month or Pride Month shows support for the intersectionality of your workforce. 

Establishing Policies and Benefits That Drive Support for All Employees

For true allyship, organizations must build tangible benefits that support their LGBTQIA+ talent. Benefits like these contribute to the way current employees and job candidates evaluate how an organization aligns with their values. However, benefits are not one-size-fits-all and require greater thought and intentionality.

For instance, LGBTQIA+ people are twice as likely to experience mental health issues compared to heterosexual men and women. As a result, employers can increase access to mental health resources that directly address these needs, which benefits all employees, including LGBTQIA+ team members. At DeVry University, employees have free access to a 24/7 service that provides mental health resources, general wellness information, and much more.

Learning and Growing Through Continuous Employee Feedback

While important, it is not enough to simply achieve diversity key performance indicators to achieve genuine allyship. Organizations should ensure their culture of belonging remains intact and continuously improve how they support LGBTQIA+ employees through ongoing feedback.

The first step is ensuring there are opportunities for LGBTQIA+ employees to participate in employee resource groups and take on leadership roles that support company-wide DEI initiatives. From there, organizations should conduct regular pulse checks and surveys of LGBTQIA+ employees, employee resource groups, and their employee base at large to gauge where DEI efforts resonate well and where there is room for improvement.

The insights gleaned from this feedback allow employers to align resources, benefits, and internal conversations with what LGBTQIA+ employees actually need. In turn, organizations have an engaged employee base because they are directly involved in driving a workplace environment of belonging – strengthening their position as an employer of choice for LGBTQIA+ talent.

Cultivating an environment where LGBTQIA+ employees are encouraged and empowered to show up as the truest version of themselves has far-reaching benefits, including how your organization is perceived by job candidates. Furthermore, aligning your DEI and recruitment strategies will also help ensure you bring in talent that aligns with your organization’s values – whether by recruiting in certain communities or emphasizing DEI during a recruitment screening process.

As DEI and belonging continue to hold solid footing as foundational requirements within an organization, employers must embed a culture of allyship that extends beyond awareness months like Pride Month to set themselves apart with today’s talent pool.

Veronica Calderon

Veronica Calderon is the chief inclusion, belonging and diversity officer at DeVry University. Among her responsibilities, Calderon will lead the implementation of the long-term vision and goals of diversity, equity and inclusion the university, including building new diversity, equity and inclusion programs and training for students, faculty and colleagues and oversee its employee resource groups (ERGs). With her work, Calderon has also received numerous honors, most recently by the Charlotte Business Journal’s Women in Business Achievement Awards and by Career Mastered Magazine as part of their Diversity IMPACT 50 List, which highlights the achievements of the nation’s leading women change makers in Diversity & Inclusion. She was also named UNC Charlotte Empowering Latina Women of the Year and Business Women of the Year by La Noticia Exelente Awards.