5 Ways You Can Be An LGBT+ Ally at Work
You may not be LGBT+, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be an ally.
Being an ally means standing up for marginalized groups and helping break down the walls of discrimination. An ally at work means you understand the struggles LGBTQ+ people go through and support them in your everyday interactions. It means that you are open-minded, non-judgemental, and ready to stand with those who are being treated unfairly or are underrepresented.
You care about their well-being, want to see them succeed, and will do what you can to make sure they feel safe and included in your office.
An effective way to be an ally is by working on changing your own perceptions, challenging your assumptions, educating yourself on new issues, and breaking down any walls of discrimination in small ways. Below we have outlined five ways that you can be a great ally at work.
1.Educate yourself on issues that matter to the LGBT+ community.
If you are going to be an effective ally, you need to understand what the LGBT+ community is going through. Learning about the issues they face will help you see how you can be part of the solution and make positive changes in your office. When it comes to issues, there are many that matter to the LGBT+ community:
- Discrimination: LGBT+ people are often discriminated against in the workplace whether it be in the hiring process, getting fired, receiving benefits, or addressing problems that arise.
- Harassment: Some people may be verbally or physically harassed at work if others find out that they are part of the LGBT+ community. This can be especially common for transgender people.
2.Recognize when you may be contributing to a problem.
Being an ally doesn’t mean that you don’t make mistakes. You will make errors in judgment sometimes, but what matters is that you recognize when you are making a mistake and learn from it. When you are talking to your co-workers, are you making assumptions about other people that you should re-evaluate? Are you using a term that might be harmful or offensive? Are you making room for the LGBT+ community in your everyday interactions? By acknowledging your biases and by having a positive attitude to learn about these topics, you will make LGBT+ people more confortable to be themselves around you.
3.Don’t make assumptions and ask questions instead.
When you interact with co-workers or with people outside of the office, don’t make assumptions about who they are or their sexual orientation or gender identity. Instead, ask questions and let people know that you are trying to be an ally. You can ask questions such as, “What hobbies do you have?” or “What do you do at work?” When you don’t make assumptions and instead ask questions, you are also making room for others to disclose more about themselves and feel comfortable in your presence.
4.Stand up for your LGBTQ+ co-workers when they are treated badly.
If you see an injustice happen against someone in your office who is a member of the LGBT+ community, you need to stand up for them. Sometimes people will say or do something that is rude or discriminatory against an LGBT+ person, and you need to recognize when it’s happening and say something. If you are witnessing someone making a transphobic joke, letting others know that it’s inappropriate and offensive is important. You can let them know that the joke isn’t funny and that it makes the person who is a part of the LGBT+ community uncomfortable. This will help the person being attacked who may not know how to react to the situation.
5.Check your language and correct others when they say something wrong.
Do you hear people use terms that are inappropriate? If so, it’s important to let them know that what they are saying is wrong. Words or expressions such as "faggot", "dyke", "that's so gay" are not tolerable. Let them know that their words are hurtful and discriminatory. You can let them know that their language is inappropriate and that you want to correct it to avoid contributing to a discriminatory work culture.
Being an ally is a significant responsibility and something that you should take seriously. You can make a difference and help to create a more inclusive work environment for the LGBT+ community. You can start by educating yourself on the issues that matter to the community and recognizing when you may be contributing to a problem. Don’t make assumptions and ask questions instead. Make room for the LGBT+ community in your everyday interactions. Stand up for your LGBTQ+ co-workers when they are treated badly. Check your language and correct others when they say something discriminatory. Be an ally outside of work as well as in the workplace. Support organizations that help to make workplaces safer for LGBT+ people.
Click below to view BE DIVERSE's workshop on good practices and awareness at work.