Pride Month: Embracing History, Inclusion, and Activism in Workplace

Culture

May 30, 2023

Abby Parker

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5 min

Pride Month resources and activity inspiration for HR Leaders.

From Diversity to Celebration: Explore Exciting Pride Activities for the Workplace and Embrace a Culture of Inclusion.

Table of Contents

The History of Pride in the U.S.A


It’s June 28, 1969, in New York City.  

Homosexuality is still illegal, and most gay bars are run by the Mafia in exchange for protection from the police. Raids were quite common at the time, but the Mafia-run bars were almost always tipped off beforehand.  

On the first day of the Stonewall Uprising, police raided the Stonewall Inn with a warrant, but without any warning. They arrested 13 people for bootlegged alcohol, and for violating the state’s gender appropriate clothing statute. The Stonewall Uprising continued violently for six days, while bar patrons and neighbourhood residents protested law enforcement’s brutality and discrimination. Drag queens and trans women of colour were some of the first to stand up against the police.

On the one-year anniversary of the riots, people were shouting, “say it loud, gay is proud” in America’s first Pride parade.  

The History of Pride in Canada


It’s February 5, 1981, in Toronto.  

200 police officers set out on a series of coordinated raids, called “Operation Soap.” By the end of the night, 286 patrons of four downtown bathhouses were arrested.  

The Toronto Bath Raids, and the demonstrations to follow marked a significant transition for the city, rooting it firmly in protest, he first Toronto Pride parade in June of 2021.  

“As long as society continues to demand us as its victims and its human sacrifices, that anger is going to be there, waiting to get into us, again and again. It’s not going to go away for a long, long time,” – Excerpt from Ken Popert in The Body Politic, in Jamie Bradburn

On this 2023 Pride celebration, we put together a spectrum of resources, activities, charities, and learning opportunities to help you carry on the legacy paved by LGBTQ+ activists.  

Tip: Encourage your internal experts and allies to participate as speakers in Pride Month celebrations or programs. To ensure inclusivity, extend an open invitation to all members of your organization, inviting anyone interested to step forward.

How to Celebrate Pride in the Workplace


To celebrate Pride Month effectively in the workplace, consider incorporating inclusive activities that both educate and engage employees.

Celebrating Pride Month at work is crucial for fostering an inclusive culture that values diversity and inclusion. It helps acknowledge the contributions and existence of LGBTQ+ employees, creating a more welcoming and supportive environment. Such celebrations can enhance employee engagement, promote acceptance, and demonstrate a company’s commitment to supporting all its employees.

Here's how you celebrate Pride Month in your organization:

Make a Pride Playlist Together


One universal way to connect is through music; this Pride, don’t let it go in one ear and out the other.  

Within teams or company-wide, introduce a song or album of the week highlighting queer artists from your country. Start your meeting listening to the lyrics, then work together to decode them; research the artists’ inspirations, careers, and impact; learn more about the political environment during the time the song was released.  

For example, one meeting could start to the tune of ‘Any Other Way,’ an album by Toronto Soul pioneer, Jackie Shane. Share how Shane’s words are emblematic of her time – hopeful, and meaningful to many people under the LGBTQ+ umbrella. Encourage your employees to listen more to the artist’s work and invite them to pitch their own song or album of the week.

If technology and community are key characteristics for your brand, take your playlist to the next level and host a radio-style live stream, inserting quick and informational voice-overs between each song. Or, pre-record short podcast-like segments and post them to Slack or Teams.  

For a less performance-involved approach, utilize Spotify’s collaborative playlist function and curated Pride playlists; suggest Pride-themed radio segments for the whole team to tune into, like iHeart Radio’s Can’t Cancel Pride event, which raised $11.3 million in charity since its inception in 2020.  

Watch a Local or Virtual Film Screening

There are many non-profit Pride Film Festivals, some running all year round. These events are thoughtfully curated, socially driven, artful commentary only made more appropriate during this Pride season. Buy your team tickets to an LGBTQIA+ themed film screening and filmmaker Q&A to make memories with one another and learn in the process.  

If a screening time doesn’t fit with your schedule, or you just want a more flexible option, suggest queer-made films already available on your employee’s streaming services. For example, you could offer your team a one-month subscription to watch Cheryl Dunye's ‘The Watermelon Woman’ the first feature film directed by a Black lesbian.  

Start a Book Club, or Clubs

Book clubs are a close-knit way to create change. Starting a LGBTQ+ themed book club can promote inclusion and improve your company culture in the process. History and knowledge sharing are the backbone of Pride; now is the time to get people together and read for a purpose.  

Consider finalizing the book club with a donation to Lamba Literary, an organization providing scholarships to emerging LGBTQ+ writers.  

There are many authors for all types of readers:

Depending on the book, it’s important to provide employees with content warnings upfront. Screen your book club selections for trauma-triggering content, so that everyone can feel included without having to confront sudden emotions at work.  

For more recommendations, check out Egale’s summer Pride reading list.

Tip: Having a digital hub to house the details for initiatives like the examples in this guide is critical to getting your team to participate. This could be a folder on your intranet, a channel on Teams/Slack, or Kudos Spaces.

Go to a Pride Parade

Whether you walk in the parade or watch from the sidelines, pride parades are a welcoming rite of passage for allies and LGBTQ+ community members.  

Start searching for “pride parade near me,” and ask what your team is up for. Check out this Pride 101 article by them, a diverse source for LGBTQ+ journalism. Within the article, you can find some virtual pride parade options for your remote team.  

Donate and Volunteer

Companies have a great opportunity to utilize their platforms for good during Pride month; from finding group volunteer activities that get your team involved hands-on in their communities, to donating to local LGBTQ+ charities and supports.  

Impact is best achieved with the right intentions, so it’s important to choose a cause that resonates with your brand. Here are a couple charities to choose from, and a hub detailing even more options:  

Review and Revise Your Policies  

On one note, it’s important for companies to publicly take a stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community. On the other hand, it’s equally important for companies to turn inward during Pride and make sure their policies align with the values they promote.  

30% of LGBTQ employees in Canada report experiencing discrimination in the workplace compared to only 3% of non-LGBTQ employees,” – Egale  

Beyond updating your diversity policies to include sexual orientation and gender identity, consider offering company-wide training to make your workplace a safe space.  
Bain & Company offers a few more specific suggestions when it comes to policies and procedures:

  • Create an environment where “coming out” is safe and easy. Companies sometimes claim they don’t need LGBTQ-specific policies, since they don’t have ‘observably’ LGBTQ employees
  • Examine how language—including pronoun assumptions and discussions of home life—may be working to include or exclude (for example, some organizations ask all employees to refer to their romantic partners as "partners" vs husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend
  • Create opportunities for all employees to educate themselves on LGBTQ matters
  • Revisit your benefits, particularly healthcare and family leave, and ensure they meet the needs of all identities, genders, orientations, and family setups
  • Build allyship programs to lighten the load for LGBTQ employees in terms of advocating for pregnancy or flagging issues
Tip: if you are choosing to produce your own Pride content, the team at Copacino+Fujikado put together this guide, called Rainbow with a Cause to help brands create more thoughtful, purposeful, and inclusive Pride content.

Enhancing DEI Through Pride Month Celebrations in the Workplace

Celebrating Pride Month in the workplace is a pivotal element of a robust Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) strategy. Here’s how it supports each aspect of DEI:

  1. Diversity: Celebrating Pride Month visibly acknowledges and values the presence of LGBTQ+ individuals in the workforce. It brings attention to the diverse orientations and identities, enhancing the organizational understanding and appreciation of this diversity.
  2. Equity: Pride celebrations in the workplace can lead to more equitable policies and practices. By recognizing the unique challenges faced by LGBTQ+ individuals, companies can adjust their policies to ensure fair treatment, access, and opportunities for all employees. This might include revising non-discrimination policies, providing equitable benefits (like extending spousal benefits to same-sex partners), and creating support structures such as LGBTQ+ affinity groups.
  3. Inclusion: Pride Month activities help foster a more inclusive work environment where LGBTQ+ employees feel genuinely welcome and safe to express their identities openly. This inclusivity boosts morale and can increase overall employee engagement and satisfaction.

Overall, incorporating Pride Month into a DEI strategy helps promote a more inclusive corporate culture that actively supports everyone. This not only benefits LGBTQ+ employees but also enriches the entire organizational environment by encouraging openness, empathy, and understanding among all employees. Celebrating diversity in this way can also enhance the company's reputation, making it more attractive to diverse talent and potentially leading to greater innovation and productivity.

Celebrating Pride in the workplace is not just a symbolic gesture, but a meaningful commitment to fostering an inclusive and supportive environment for all employees. HR leaders have a vital role in driving this change by updating policies, providing diversity training, and promoting initiatives that amplify LGBTQ+ voices. Let us seize this opportunity to stand in solidarity, honor the history of Pride, and actively work toward a future where everyone can bring their authentic selves to work without fear of discrimination. Together, we can create workplaces that truly embody the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Muni Boga: One of Canada’s Most Admired CEOs

Muni Boga: One of Canada’s Most Admired CEOs

“From day one, we have emphasized that Kudos is a safe and open environment for both our leadership and team. This encourages innovation and client-centric thinking – both key drivers in our success. Not to mention, it‘s the right thing to do.”

Muni Boga
CEO, Kudos

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About Kudos

Kudos is an employee engagement, culture, and analytics platform, that harnesses the power of peer-to-peer recognition, values reinforcement, and open communication to help organizations boost employee engagement, reduce turnover, improve culture, and drive productivity and performance. Kudos uses unique proprietary methodologies to deliver essential people analytics on culture, performance, equity, and inclusion, providing organizations with deep insights and a clear understanding of their workforce.

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