September 21, 2022

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Tips from Hyland’s Pride Alliance: 4 ways to support LGBTQIA+ inclusivity

Every June, organizations across the United States put on and participate in celebrations that include Pride month parades, concerts, parties and other events. It’s a fun and important way to recognize the positive impact LGBTQIA+ individuals have on our global and corporate communities.

Lisa Jackman

Lisa Jackman

Employee Communications & Corporate Social Responsibility Director

Pride flags waving in the blue sky.

During Pride Month, it’s not only important to honor these contributions, but also to reflect on how an organization can empower its team members to support LGBTQIA+ colleagues in the workplace.
As part of Pride Month, the Hyland Pride Alliance (our LGBTQIA+ employee resource group), hosted an Allyship and Activism panel. Moderated by Hyland’s Behavioral Health Specialist Valarie McKnight, the panel provided space for a handful of Hyland employees to share:

  • The different ways to be an LGBTQIA+ ally
  • How being an ally goes beyond acceptance
  • Actionable steps anyone can take to be more inclusive

Each panelist had their own personal experiences and different perspectives on what it means to be an ally, but the word everyone kept coming back to was “support.”

According to our Allyship and Activism panelists, here’s how you can do your part to ensure your LGBTQIA+ colleagues feel supported.

4 Ways to Support LGBTQIA+ Inclusivity

It's on us to teach others about diversity and inclusivity, so we can all be accepted for who we are.

— Ali Thomas, Cloud Support Analyst

#1. Cultivate a safe, judgement-free environment

The Allyship and Activism panel discussed workplace discrimination, with leaders of the group offering this advice:

  • Create safe spaces for the diversity of everyone’s experiences
  • Offer real and genuine support for people as they move through difficulties in life
  • Make sure everyone knows they belong, as their authentic self

In the U.S., 45% of LGBT workers have experienced unfair treatment at work due to their status, according to the UCLA School of Law.

Discrimination can take many forms, from slurs, “jokes” and negative comments, to lack of career mobility and lower pay. LGBTQ+ workers make about 90% of their non-LGBTQ+ colleagues, according to the HRC Foundation.

Discrimination is not acceptable, and no one should have to alter aspects of the personal lives to fit in.

Be open and considerate with the things you say, you’re never going to get it right 100% of the time in regards to pronouns. Ask — or operate from a neutral standpoint. Use inclusive language and be mindful.

— Alex Turner, Developer

#2. Make an Effort to Use Inclusive Language

Language can be a powerful tool for any movement or people. The meaning, context and tone with which we write and speak can have lasting impressions, and words are hard to take back.

The Allyship and Activism panel discussed these important points for allies:

  • Reclaimed words: While some groups may reclaim certain words, it’s up to individuals to show wisdom and common sense when and where those words are used.
  • Gender assumptions: Don’t. Guessing or assuming a person’s gender based on names, clothes or looks degrades inclusivity efforts. Just ask, or take a neutral standpoint.
  • Give space for evolution. Use language inclusivity and make it easier for the people in your life to decide who they are and how they identify.

Read more | Going pro pronouns: Why businesses are encouraging preferred pronouns in emails, introductions

Offer support. Simple as you can boil it down. Offer support. Make the difference you can calling out someone who is homophobic, stand up for the people around you.

— Alex Turner, Developer

#3. Be Comfortable Stepping out and Speaking up

When you see discrimination, do what you can to put a stop to it.

The Allyship and Activism panel made it clear: Allies can show up for the LGBTQIA+ community by stepping in with a simple, ‘That is not acceptable,’ when they need to. Other tips:

  • Hire, establish and promote diverse teams, across all spectrums
  • Lead by example, not matter where you are in the chain of command
  • Acknowledge imbalances in privilege, and work to transfer the benefits when you can
  • Lead with empathy

It takes so much out of you every day to wake up not knowing if there’s going to be a new ruling, or a new hate crime. We can’t do it on our own. Allyship evolves with the times, it evolves with new movements and new opportunities.

— Alex Turner, Developer

#4. Stay Tuned in and Take Action to Advocate

The world can change fast.

For gay rights, this is especially true. For example, a few years ago, the right to marry wasn’t the law of the land in the U.S.

The Allyship and Activism panel encourages allies to be aware of what’s going on in the news and with legislation, so they can:

  • Advocate
  • Activate
  • Support and empathize with the LGBTQIA+ community in the face of stressors

Pride at Hyland

When an LGBTQIA+ individual receives support from family and friends, it has been associated with positive outcomes such as improved self-esteem and overall wellbeing.

At Hyland, we are committed to everyone.

Since 2018, the Hyland Pride Alliance has been a space open to all employees, providing an opportunity to enjoy events and activities focused around the LGBTQIA+ community.

For Mike LaPonte, a renewal billing specialist whose daughter came out to him on a weekend, the alliance offered an ideal starting point for him to engage with the community.

“I knew there was the LGBT employee resource group, so later that night I got on my work computer and sent an email to them,” LaPonte says. “We started talking about how the journey is going, and that’s just been amazing. I’ve started going to the meetings, and I’ve met a lot of amazing people and made some really good friends. It’s just something that’s really, really necessary.”

In addition to hosting these activities, the Hyland Pride Alliance plays a significant role in advocating for LGBTQIA+ employees in regard to our policies, practices and benefits.

For the past two years, Hyland has been included in the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index (CEI), improving our score after just one year.

In addition to monthly get-togethers, the alliance held a Pride flag raising ceremony at Hyland’s Cleveland headquarters to kick off Pride month.

This flag doesn’t just symbolize Hyland’s solidarity through the month of June, but a commitment, globally, 24/7/365, to the LGBTQIA+ community that we’ll provide a safe and inclusive workplace for all.