Pride Month is more than a 30-day show of support. There is a lot of hard work to be done in the LGBTQ+ community. Here are three ways associations can be better allies, not just in June but year-round.
June is Pride Month, but it’s not all about rainbows.
It is a time to openly celebrate the hard-won freedom of the LGBTQ+ community, and forge authentic partnerships with the community and develop more meaningful alliances. And, as with many efforts surrounding diversity, equity, and inclusion, perfunctory acknowledgments are not enough.
“It’s not just a big party, we’re actually here because there’s incredible work to do that is needed to help the community—and we need as many allies as we can get,” said GLAAD Media Institute Vice President Ross Murray. “Associations can be really good allies, but they need to have the right attitude about what work needs to be done.”
For example, the last two years have been the most anti-LGBTQ+ legislative sessions on record, according to GLAAD, which is why Murray advises associations to move away from celebratory language. “Tread lightly and carefully recognize the many ways the LGBTQ+ community is under attack and think about how to leverage influence to help secure acceptance or protections for the community,” he said.
However, despite the many adversities the LGBTQ+ community continues to face, it is a force to be reckoned with. For starters, there’s the future, reflected in the generation coming up. Roughly 21 percent of Gen Z who have reached adulthood identify as LGBTQ+, according to a 2022 Gallup survey.
Gen Z also wants to engage with organizations that line up with their DEI values. According to a Deloitte Global 2021 Millennial and Gen Z Survey [PDF], 49 percent of respondents said they have based their career choices and decisions about potential employers on an organization’s values and ethics.
That’s why it’s essential to have plans in place to proactively support the LGBTQ+ community. Murray offers three ways associations can be better allies.
Speak out. To make sure you are providing tangible help, conduct an internal audit of what stances your association is taking to help support the community. Speak out against local and national anti-LGBTQ+ legislation and support pro-LGBTQ+ legislation when it’s proposed.
It helps to partner with an LGBTQ+ nonprofit—well before June—that lines up with your association’s mission, interests, or values and take the lead from them because they can be a good sounding board for guiding priorities.
Look for internal support. In addition to external partners, LGBTQ+ employee resource groups can be a good ally because they are often more attuned to what is happening. They can give perspective on what is important for the organization to act on that is aligned with the group’s values and mission, and it helps that it’s being led by LGBTQ+ employees.
Pay for expertise. If you bring in LGBTQ+ talent to speak for appearances, panels, or for the promotion of LGBTQ+ campaigns, make sure to compensate them. “That labor LGBTQ+ people bring in is important,” Murray said. Particularly now when LGBTQ+ leaders’ areas of expertise are being used the most. But don’t set aside a budget line item just for the month of June, make sure there is a place in the budget for the rest of the year.
And, while being an ally to the LGBTQ+ community isn’t just about one month, June is a good time to show what you have already done. “It’s a way to come out with receipts of what your actions have been, and also make sure you are treating your employees and consumers with a level of dignity and respect,” Murray said.
Overall, actively demonstrating a commitment to the LGBTQ+ community reflects well on the organization. “There’s an increased halo effect of being on the right side of history in a really good, tangible way,” he said.
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