This summer I had the wonderful opportunity to speak at many #Pride events! Some of these were for corporate LGBTQ+ employee resource groups (ERGs) and others were at Regional conferences. I had the honor of working with Medline Industries, Ocean Spray, and the New England BCORP Leadership Conference. Participants included members of the LGBTQ+ community and their allies. Here are a few of the questions that I was asked during the speaking events.
What are micro aggressions?
According to the Oxford dictionary, Microagressions are defined as “a statement, action, or incident regarded as an instance of indirect, subtle, or unintentional discrimination against members of a marginalized group such as a racial or ethnic minority.”
A recent McKinsey study shared that , “LGBTQ+ women experience the most microaggressions and sexual harassment in the workplace. Bisexual women report the highest rate of harassment, and are most likely to hear sexist comments about their gender and have sexually explicit comments directed towards them.” Source: https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/coronavirus-leading-through-the-crisis/charting-the-path-to-the-next-normal/lgbtq-women-experience-the-most-microaggressions-and-sexual-harassment-in-the-workplace Microaggressions are small but add up to a big negative impact.
- Being misgendered when people do not use their correct pronouns
- Derogatory comments or jokes about people that are the same gender
- Homophobic comments or jokes
- “Your bi so that means you haven’t made up your mind?”
How can I be a better ally at work?
Address microaggressions when you witness them. Include your pronouns in your email signature. When you introduce yourself in a meeting share your pronouns. Address inappropriate behavior when it happens. Ensure leadership sets the tone for acceptable behavior through visible and decisive action to address inappropriate behavior.
Should our company require pronouns in all email signatures to promote inclusion?
I don’t think requiring pronouns at the end of email signatures is a smart move because it doesn’t give people a choice as to whether they want to publicly share that part of themselves. Many people may not be comfortable listing their pronouns on the email signature because historically doing so indicated you were a member of the LGBTQ+ community, even though today many allies will also include their pronouns.
What is intersectionality? The dictionary defines intersectionality as a” framework for conceptualizing a person, group of people, or social problem as affected by a number of discriminations and disadvantages this may include race, class, or gender for an individual or a group”. An example is LGBTQ+ people who also have a disability or LGBTQ+ people who are also immigrants.
Should I come out at work?
It is an individual choice if you want to come out; how, when and with whom. LGBTQ+ employees may come out many times during each week to different people at work. It is not a one and done. This can be very stressful and take a lot of energy because every time a person considers coming out, they first have to assess the environment and the people involved to determine if it’s safe. Many LGBTQ+ employees are out to some people and some aren’t out at all because they may not be comfortable or it may not feel safe at their workplace. Although we may personally know that an employee is LGBTQ+, it is never our place to out the employee! Even if we are an ally, we should never out someone.
About the Author:
Sarah Scala is a senior talent management leader and executive coach with 20+ years of experience providing organization development, change management, and leadership development solutions for diverse global and local industries. She is a collaborative consultant, coach, and educator supporting performance transformation of executives, leaders, and teams. Sarah is a methodical, results-driven leader recognized for helping clients reach their highest potential, increase revenue, reduce turnover, elevate business profitability, build competencies, and improve performance.
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