Written by CEO Albert Kruger
For companies committed to equality, Pride is all year round….
Each year we celebrate Pride Month in June to honour the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan – a pivotal moment in queer history when NYC police raided the Stonewall Inn, a haven for the LGBTQIA+ community at a time when homosexuality was illegal.
Because we celebrate the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Festival during Australia’s summer months, some may think that Pride Month isn’t as important as it is overseas. But the history of Mardi Gras has deep connections to Pride Month.
The first Mardi Gras took place during Pride Month on 24 June 1978 – Sydney’s newly-formed Gay Solidarity Group organised a day of events to raise awareness and fight for the rights of the LGBTQIA+ communities, First Nations people and women.
Marching from Taylor Square to Hyde Park, hundreds of community members followed a truck with a sound system yelling “Out of the bars and into the streets!” With the crowd growing, the Police descended on the group and the march ended in violence with 53 people arrested. Both Pride and Mardi Gras had similar beginnings, yet have grown into large, global celebrations and displays of advocacy and pride, born from conflict, oppression and violence.
Pride Month and Mardi Gras shouldn’t just be isolated moments in time of celebration, they should be treated as catalysts for continued support for the LGBTQIA+ movement. The battle for equality is far from over, and the message of pride should be heard year-round.
Promoting inclusivity beyond Pride Month
Organisations are routinely slammed online for blatant pink-washing during Pride Month and Mardi Gras. It’s important for companies to use these times as an opportunity to leverage the groundswell of support and awareness on LGBTQIA+ issues across the workforce and encourage employees to remain open to experiences and conversations.
It’s vital that your work environment is a safe space for LGBTQIA+ staff to feel included and empowered to live as their authentic selves. There’s so much you can do to ensure this, year-round. Review your policies for inclusion such as paid affirmation leave, introduce gender-neutral language, enforce gender-neutral bathrooms, encourage the use of personal pronouns in email signatures and when making formal introductions. Most importantly, make sure you are actually hiring and progressing LGBTQIA+ people within your teams. Find more suggestions here.
There’s always more to learn
Learning about the history and experiences of LGBTQIA+ people shouldn’t stop after June. You can educate your staff by:
- Hosting an LGBTQIA+ lunch or after work drinks and invite speakers from the community in.
- Communicate in an inclusive way, by learning more about pronouns and understand the meaning of our acronym and pride flag. Learn more here.
- Share news and information about LGBTQIA+ dates of significance on your company intranet.
- Introducing mandatory Workplace LGBTQIA+ Inclusion Training for all team members.
Support and endorse other LGBTQIA+ organisations
Raise money for an LGBTQIA+ organisation through an office activity. There’s a significant number of community organisations doing valuable work for LGBTQIA+ people in Sydney and wider Australia. You can find some of them listed on our website here.
Many LGBTQIA+ organisations are non-profit charities and rely on donations and fundraising to continue their vital work. Typically run by and for community, you’re having a direct and meaningful impact on those that need it most.
Small actions can create massive change
It’s through simple activities like those listed above that organisations can maintain momentum outside of the glitter and celebration of events like Pride Month and Mardi Gras.
If a company does want to support LGBTQIA+ communities, it has to do more than change its logo to a rainbow during Pride Month. Authenticity is key and authenticity is grounded in actions.
Those actions don’t have to be large – small changes to how you communicate, organisations you support and events you celebrate can have a lasting positive impact on the LGBTQIA+ staff and customers in your orbit.