How to Be An Active Ally and Create an Inclusive Workplace for LGBTQI People

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By Christina Stokes is VP & Director of Talent Acquisition at Rubenstein

The workplace does not need to be a closet. No one should ever feel excluded or fearful in the workplace because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Here’s the reality: LGBTQI employees need active workplace allies at all levels and in all industries, and, in turn, companies should constantly work to foster increasingly inclusive environments for their staff.

Some examples of ways in which LGBTQI folks can benefit from allyship and inclusion in the workplace: A person should feel proud to display photos with an LGBTQI partner at their desk. A transgender woman should not question whether or not she should apply for a senior level position. A family unit made up of two moms and their children should be relaxed and comfortable at the corporate family picnic. A team should be mindful to use their non-binary colleague’s identified pronouns at all times, not just during the weekly brainstorm.

Be an informed ally by getting acquainted with LGBTQI issues.

Familiarize yourself with proper terminology. LGBTQI stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, and intersex. The Human Rights Campaign published this glossary to provide people with words and meanings to help ease conversations and make them more comfortable. Ask what pronoun a person wishes to be referred to as, and be mindful to use it. If you make a mistake, don’t ignore it – apologize. Catalyst recently compiled and published these statistics covering population, workplace, and buying power of LGBTQI people. Learn about the milestones in the fight for LGBTQI rights – CNN published a clear timeline that includes fast fasts.

Create a more inclusive hiring process.

Do away with the “pink ceiling” and watch out for affinity biases. Surveys suggest that LGBTQI people are under-represented at the highest levels of business. To accomplish this, employers can provide growth opportunities and development wherever possible for everyone. Diversify the panel of interviewers involved in in the hiring process. Use inclusive language and an EEO statement in job advertisements.

Lead by example and adopt nondiscrimination policies.

A company policy should comply with all anti-discrimination laws, and apply not only to employees but to contractors, visitors, customers, and stakeholders. Firms should provide training on these policies to their employees and enforce them by investigating and addressing reports quickly and efficiently.

pride in the workplace

Speak up and speak out on behalf of your LGBTQI colleagues.

If you hear offensive comments or “jokes”, or witness anti-LGBTQI activities or discussions taking place, say something directly and also reach out to Human Resources. Establish (or join) a straight-ally employee group or safe zone within your organization. Encourage senior leadership to play an active role in the development of programs and training. Participate in Pride activities. Oppose discriminatory legislation. Encourage LGBTQI representation on boards, in committees, and on your teams.

Remember that an ally does not need to have all the answers. An ally is a friend and a willing ear. An ally is open-minded and ready to confront their own prejudices. Over 1000 anti-LGBTQ bills were introduced in the United States in 2017.

Recognize the privileges that cisgender straight people have which LGBTQI people are frequently denied. If an individual is out, make sure they know that you’ll stand by them.

Want to learn more about how FindSpark can support your company’s diversity and inclusion initiatives and strategies? Visit 

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