The modern workforce is more diverse than it has ever been. Not only are people of all identities and backgrounds free to enter any field, but they are increasingly able to share those identities rather than being forced to hide who they are. Unfortunately, despite the progress that we've made as a society, people from certain communities continue to face unequal treatment. These challenges may come in the form of repeated microaggressions or more overt instances of discrimination. According to a 2017 Harvard study, over half of all LGBTQ+ Americans had experienced slurs or violence based on their sexuality or gender identity, and nearly a quarter reported that those experiences extended into the workplace.
Transforming work culture into one that truly welcomes its LGBTQ+ colleagues will take time, and there is no one right answer for organizations. Still, comprehensive and compassionate diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives can go a long way toward fostering work environments that support and uplift all of their members. We all thrive when we more clearly see the humanity in others, embrace what makes us different and unique, and stand together as allies in finding a better way. DEI helps your employees do just that, empowering them to speak up, step in, and support one another.
What does LGBTQ+ stand for?
The term "LGBTQ+" stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (or questioning), which are some of the most common sexualities and gender identities that exist beyond heterosexuality and the gender binary.
However, the LGBTQ+ community is much wider than just lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer individuals. It includes everyone who feels that heteronormativity and cisnormativity fail to capture their individual experience of sexuality or gender. The "+" in LGBTQ+ represents this expansive and inclusive nature of the LGBTQ+ community, reminding us that there are many valid experiences of gender and sexuality beyond those that are most talked about.
What does it mean to be an LGBTQ+ ally?
An LGBTQ+ ally is a person who does not identify as LGBTQ+, but who supports equality for LGBTQ+ people and their families. Allies play a key role in the fight for equality by leveraging their own privilege to uplift others. An effective ally amplifies the voices of LGBTQ+ people while being mindful not to speak for (or worse—speak over) marginalized members of the community.
People sometimes mistakenly believe that allyship can be granted (or lost) based on how someone behaves in a single scenario. That is not the case. It's entirely possible to do the right thing for a LGBTQ+ colleague in one situation while still perpetuating a non-inclusive work environment. Conversely, someone may say or do something insensitive but genuinely want to learn from their mistake—one misstep does not strip that person of their status as an ally.
Instead of thinking about "ally" as a title to be given or revoked, it's more productive to think of it as a long-term commitment. An ally is someone who genuinely strives to build trust and understanding with LGBTQ+ colleagues. “A lot of it comes down to empathy,” says LRN Library learning director Kristen Motzer. “When I look at our entire DEI curriculum, my biggest goal (professionally and personally) is seeing people learn to be more empathetic. We’re really trying to leverage LRN's philosophy of being human-centered in the workplace.”
Introducing “LGBTQ+ Authentic Understanding and Allyship”
As part of LRN's ongoing DEI initiative, we are offering a new 30-minute course, “LGBTQ+ Authentic Understanding and Allyship,” that explores how to create a workplace that is more welcoming and accepting for LGBTQ+ people. Using powerful and emotional video interviews of real-life people recounting their real-life experiences, this course will help learners understand the diversity of experience within the LGBTQ+ community and empathize with the barriers that many LGBTQ+ people continue to face.
After participating in this course, learners will understand what it means to be an authentic ally to their LGBTQ+ colleagues and will have the tools necessary to build a better workplace.
The “LGBTQ+ Authentic Understanding and Allyship” course emphasizes human connection and personal reflection. Learners will hear personal accounts from LGBTQ+ individuals detailing the ways in which their identity has both enriched their life and presented obstacles due to societal intolerance. In listening to these narratives, learners will be reminded of how even unconscious behaviors can harm and will be motivated to practice more inclusive behavior.
Specifically, the course content instructs participants how to:
- Expand our empathy towards the LGBTQ+ community.
- Explore our differences and commonalities with LGBTQ+ individuals.
- Act as an ally in the workplace.
- Speak up in support of LGBTQ+ coworkers and call others in to do the same.
The course comes complete with custom assets to support the learning journey:
- Field guides
- Interactive infographics
- Campaign email
Course objectives and learning outcomes
Upon completion of the course, learners will be able to:
- Understand, explain, and empathize with the challenges faced by the LGBTQ+ community.
- Recognize both the commonalities that unite LGBTQ+ individuals and allies, as well as the diversity of experiences present within the LGBTQ+ community.
- Take concrete actions to create an open, inclusive, and respectful workplace where colleagues respect and embrace each other's differences.
- Support DEI initiatives that foster a diverse and equitable workplace.
Who should implement this course?
This DEI program will benefit any organization seeking to improve workplace interactions and support their employees' diverse lived experiences. Taking this course will help your team recognize the impact of their words and actions so that they are better equipped to create an inclusive work environment.
Key takeaway: The LRN difference
DEI initiatives are a key strategy for improving employee morale and creating a safe workplace where people both recognize and respect their differences. LRN considers allyship to be a lifelong process of growth and learning, and our course is designed to provide a roadmap for participants as they embark on—or recommit to—that journey. After completing the course, learners will understand the role they play in answering inequity and they will be better prepared to handle workplace challenges when they do arise.
No employee should feel like they have to hide a core facet of their identity to be comfortable in the workplace. LRN's interactive DEI curriculum helps teams move toward a more respectful environment filled with allies rather than adversaries. To learn how our nuanced approach to DEI education helps you build happier, more productive teams, contact us today.
About the Author
Carolyn Grace is a content writer on LRN's global marketing team. Her work involves turning complex ideas into compelling stories that resonate across business segments, industries, and personas while hitting critical KPIs for traffic, conversions, and customer retention.More Content by Carolyn Grace