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How to be an ally in your workplace

Posted by Alana Cumming on 16/02/2023



How to be an ally in your workplace

With UK LGBT+ History Month in full swing, it is more important than ever to ensure that we play our part in creating an inclusive work environment for our co-workers within the LGBT+ community.

It’s not enough to simply say you’re an LGBT+ ally; you have to act like one. Discriminating against someone because of their gender and sexual orientation is a criminal offence, and yet a survey in the UK found a staggering 35% of LGBT+ workers say they’ve hidden their sexual orientation while at work for fear of discrimination.

With figures as high as that, it’s time for proud allies, not just at work, but everywhere to speak out about how we can all come together and help improve the lives of the LGBT+ community everywhere. At LHi, we are committed to making a difference and want the work we do to have a genuine impact on the world, so no matter what your orientation is, you can make a difference.

We understand that some people may not know where to start or how to be a proud ally so, here are some ways to act as an ally for LGBT+ inclusion and to help prevent discrimination.

1. Use gender-neutral greetings:

Sometimes it’s a common mistake for people to assume an individual’s gender identity by using a gender-specific greeting unintentionally, such as, ‘Hey dude’ or ‘Morning ladies’. Until you know people’s personal gender pronouns, go with gender-neutral pronouns, as although some may not see it as offensive, others could. So, the next time you address a number of people or send an email to a big group, use a gender-neutral introduction —instead of saying, “Hi guys,” go with a simple “Hi everyone” or ‘Morning all’. [1]

2. Read up and empower yourself

Did you know that UK LGBT+ History month is celebrated in February to coincide with the 2003 abolition of Section 28 (a series of laws across Britain that prohibited the "promotion of homosexuality")

Or did you know that almost two in five bisexual people hide their sexual orientation? [2] 

Straight allies don’t have to be experts in all matters LGBT+, but empowering yourself with a strong knowledge base is an important step in your allyship journey.

3. Familiarise yourself with the language

To ensure that your workplace is inclusive, an important step is doing something as easy as reading a glossary of terms and teaching yourself the right language to use when talking with LGBT+ people. It’s a small but crucial step you can take to educate yourself and make sure you are using the terminology to be respectful to everyone around you.

Whether you refer to google and online resources or even YouTube videos, it allows you to expand your knowledge and gives a good idea of what each term means so that you can familiarise yourself. Whilst it will make the people around you feel comfortable, it also will help you to feel more confident when discussing LGBT+ issues, and feel like you can really get involved with the conversations.

4. Stand up for what you believe in

In a survey asking 3,000 people from 60 countries, 57% of those who had overheard anti-LGBT discussions said they were too scared to say anything. For change to happen, It’s not good enough to just stand by, we need to stand up! [3] 

We understand that it can be difficult for some people to constantly be the person to challenge their colleagues for their behaviour but, we need a starting point. By LGBT+ allies having conversations both in and out of the workplace, it creates a much more inclusive culture, and by promoting this diversity, it could encourage individuals that may not feel comfortable announcing their gender orientation, to feel they can share it and be open in an inclusive environment.

By creating a safe space, LGBT+ colleagues who may want to share details are more likely to feel comfortable to chat openly in a more inclusive environment.

5. Remain open to relearning

The society we live in is constantly evolving, and so, we need to ensure that we continually remain open to learning what it means to be an ally to LGBT+ people in the workplace. This could be from listening to stories about the LGBT+ community and hearing their experiences to making note of the right terminology to use in the specific context. The main aim is that we continue to strengthen our knowledge to ensure we stay up to date with what it means to be an LGBT+ ally. [4]

6. Learn about the issues that are important in the community

We live in a world where we have access to information at our fingertips, so it is now easier than ever to learn about the issues that are important to the community. Listen to podcasts, read books, and talk to people within the LGBT+ community that are happy to share their knowledge. The best way to be an LGBT+ ally is by immersing yourself in the community as much as possible to really get a sense of what it’s like to walk in their shoes. [5]

Get in Touch:

We believe diversity and inclusion is one of the most important things here at LHi, so to join us on our road to a better tomorrow, one that represents all people fairly, reach out to our People Team today:

UK & Europe People Team at recruitment@wearelhi.com
US People Team at recruitmentUSA@wearelhi.com