Pride Month Roundtable: DEI through an LGBTQ+ lens

By Robert Half on 23 May 2024

Pride Month offers the opportunity to celebrate employees and the commitment to equality within the workplace. Here, Garry Reynolds, Andreas L. Niehaus and Remi Gay examine how to improve the LGBTQ+ experience at work.

What does the LGBTQ+ community see/experience that helps contribute to equality in the workplace?​

Garry Reynolds: Communities that are marginalized or that face discrimination often have a unique perspective and may experience things differently as a result. People who haven’t had much exposure to the LGBTQ+ community may not be aware of the unintentional assumptions they make. For example, when I have referred to a partner without identifying their gender in the past, people have often responded referring to my partner as a female. Given this assumption is not intended maliciously whatsoever, often people don’t notice this bias. That’s an example of the way marginalized communities can identify biases and use these to contribute to equality in the workplace.

Andreas L Niehaus: What counts is you as a human being and your performance and your passion about what you and we do. Being here for over four years I’m proud to say that I’ve not seen any of these issues at Robert Half or Protiviti.

Remi Gay: Companies that are really promoting the importance of supporting the LGBTQ+ community are the ones that are thriving. At my last company, there was basically nothing happening until I took up the mantle and started pushing it. The ENGs are so important to allow everyone to feel involved and valued.

What can managers do to empower the LGBTQ+ community at work?​

Andreas: Be open and have an openness to new things. And my preferred thing is to listen carefully and let people talk. You don't always need to have the answer immediately. Work together to come up with ideas and solutions. But the most important is to listen and then act.

Garry: Make sure you continue learning as well, you know, to support your colleagues and the people that you are managing. So, for example, even considering pronouns, that’s a big one that I think has been kind of coming to light recently. As I said earlier, I've been in workplaces, and I would say “my partner” and people would assume it’s a woman. I think it’s important just to ensure people feel included, whether that be through education or experiences. Attending activities as an ally and just showing support so that people can say that you're accepting of LGBTQ+ employees because it does create that sense of inclusion.

Andreas: Empathy is my favourite word here. Imagine you are in the other person’s shoes. It starts with the little things. We must think beyond the horizon and accept that others may have different preferences, ideas, wishes and then try to make the best out of it. You can’t always be 100% right but people will appreciate it very much if you try.

Garry: Pride Month is a celebration of our differences. And if you take that that concept and bring it into the workplace as well and just have that level of understanding that we all have completely diverse experiences that can bring unique perspectives, that can contribute in so many ways.

Remi: As others have said listening is one of the most vital skills. They need to cultivate an open forum as well as educating themselves. Sometimes I’ve heard a few comments that have shown a lack of understanding, so they need to ensure they’re not closed off to it. We come from different backgrounds, so we must open all those conversations to encourage everyone to feel included. Managers themselves need to be asking what else they can do to offer more support.

How can allies support an LGBTQ+ friendly work environment?​

Garry: A big one for me is, just showing up and attending events. That’s going to really promote that friendly work environment. And then also, I mean, where it's safe and where you're able to do so, standing up when you do hear something that's potentially discriminative or just kind of clarifying, you know, because sometimes people who have been marginalized or have experienced discrimination will have more trouble standing up for themselves because it has such a direct impact. There's a lot of emotion behind it often. So, if you're in a position where you can do so, I think that that is a fantastic thing to do, just to kind of stand up for that, if you can and you hear it and you feel comfortable to do so.

Andreas: It’s just to be treated like everyone else. Yes, we have differences, but we also have more similarities that bring us together. So, for me it’s about celebrating what makes us more alike and being understanding and not discriminatory of the differences we share. I’m more than happy to have these conversations with anyone who wants to become an ally. We can grab a tea, lunch, or whatever works best so we can help to increase the overall understanding around why we have these groups and the importance of it.

Garry: I've had clients who've used they/them pronouns and it's helpful if people are kind of accustomed to asking or putting their pronouns in their signature so that they're able to use those pronouns when they need to.

Remi: Having those channels where we can inform and educate those who aren’t as knowledgeable is key. The different communication platforms we have are a great way to amplify the ENG groups as well as to tell the story of why Pride Month is important.

Spokespeople Bios

Remi Gay is a Senior Talent Solution Manager at Robert Half, in the Finance and Accounting division, specifically focusing on interim qualified placements.

Garry Reynolds is Head of Marketing & PR for UK, Ireland, and UAE at Robert Half and based in Manchester, United Kingdom. In addition to overseeing the marketing and PR activities of Robert Half across his markets of responsibility, he is also a founding member of the BELONG UK chapter, the LGBTQ+ Employee Network Group at Robert Half.

Andreas L Niehaus is Director Real Estate & Workplace Services EMEA at Robert Half. His work involves ensuring offices and general work environments support Robert Half’s and Protiviti’s business best.

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