In a continuation of celebrating Pride Month, I wanted to share three more ideas on how to celebrate Pride Month at work – some of which we're doing here at Reward Gateway, and other ideas I've picked up from other companies. I can't overemphasise the importance of celebrating social causes that show your employees that they have the care and support from their company to be who they truly are at work, without fear of discrimination.
As I said in my previous post, I think it’s important to acknowledge a few things about myself. First and foremost, I do identify as a gay man and my pronouns are he/him. I also recognise that I’m a white male in my 30s with a lot of privilege, and I don’t want to pretend I have lived through the same struggles many of my predecessors and today’s LGBTQIA+ people of colour have endured. I’m not a sociologist nor an expert in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). But what I can share is my personal perspective, as well as bits and pieces of what our Reward Gateway LGBTQIA+ & Allies Network is carrying out to celebrate Pride.
Let's take a look at more ways to celebrate LBGTQIA+ and Pride Month in the office:
|1. Donate to a cause that matters
|2. Organise a virtual LGBTQIA+ themed game of trivia
|3. Combine Pride colours with meaningful action
1. Donate to a cause that matters
Visual and vocal forms of support are essential to any social cause. But the value of monetary support should not be overlooked. Another great way your company can celebrate Pride Month and impact the LGBTQIA+ community in a positive way is to raise money for relevant organisations and charities.
While sending out a link to employees and encouraging them to make a donation is wonderful on its own, it’s even more effective to create buzz and visibility around the process. You could organise a fun event, walk-a-thon or contest that not only puts the spotlight on Pride Month but also engages and motivates more employees to participate. Your organisation can then decide to match or add to the total amount donated.
What’s more, if you have an employee rewards solution that enables employees to redeem reward points by donating directly to a charity of their choice, you can highlight this option as well. It’s a great way to get even more value out of your tech stack.
For the past couple of years, Reward Gateway has invited employees to participate in the 'RG Rainbow Walk.' The instructions are simple: wear rainbow colours (or any other Pride swag), take a stroll around your neighbourhood, capture your walk and Pride attire on camera and post a photo in our network’s Slack channel. You could optionally donate to an LGBTQIA+ charity and Reward Gateway’s People Team matched the donations (and then some).
As a gay man, I was truly touched by the number of people at my company that rocked the rainbow look for Pride. Not to mention it was an easy way for employees to show support for their LGBTQIA+ colleagues and simultaneously get a little exercise into their day, while we were all working remotely during the pandemic.
Personally, I may have gotten a little carried away with my own Rainbow Walk...
If you’re looking for great LGBTQIA+ organisations to support, here are some ideas (just to name a few): your local PFLAG chapter, the Transgender Law Center, The Trevor Project and the Human Rights Campaign.
2. Organise a virtual LGBTQIA+ themed game of trivia
Who doesn’t love a good, old-fashioned game of trivia? If you’re thinking about creative ways to blend fun with interesting information, a virtual trivia event is a prime solution (particularly if your organisation has a remote or hybrid workforce). You can even designate your event as a 'happy hour' with colourful cocktail and/or mocktail recipes employees can whip up at home.
That said, you certainly don’t have to do all the heavy lifting. There are LGBTQIA+ themed trivia question worksheets you can find and download with a quick Google search – I just recommend running them by other Pride Month stakeholders at your organisation. And there are tools like Slido you can use to execute the actual gameplay functionality.
Running an event like this via Zoom also gives the host as well as participants the opportunity to use fun or supportive backgrounds (ie: the modern Pride flag, photos from a Pride parade, a fabulous image of their favourite drag performer, etc.)
As far as the questions go, why not break them up into categories? You can obviously incorporate some easy and light-hearted questions around pop culture and movies, but don’t forget to include sections dedicated to history and queer people of colour, who are often lesser known (take Marsha P. Johnson for example). You can also use the time in between rounds to provide a little more context and educational nuggets for the audience.
3. Combine Pride colours with meaningful action
I know I don’t speak for all LGBTQIA+ folks when I say this, but I do personally appreciate when I see companies sharing images of Pride flags (better yet, the transgender and BIPOC inclusive Pride flag), temporarily modifying their branding, and adorning their logos and social media profiles with rainbow colours during the month of June. To me, it truly does speak volumes and sends a highly visible message that all people need to see.
What also speaks volumes is when that’s all the company does. This feels kind of like Pride bells and whistles with no substance – and this is why some organisations, usually bigger corporations, are heavily criticised for commercialising and capitalising on Pride Month without taking meaningful action.
The term for superficially participating in Pride Month without engaging in the celebration’s radical political legacy has often been referred to as 'rainbow washing.' If your organisation is going to talk the talk, it needs to walk the walk.
If re-examining your company policies, supply chain and other vendor partnerships feels overdue, let Pride Month be the impetus for doing so. And if you’re not sure how inclusive your organisation really is, it may be time to ask for help from qualified consultants and organisations that focus on assessing workplace policies and environments – and creating strategies for implementing positive change or getting leadership on board with DEI initiatives.
One example would be to draft an anti-harassment policy that includes language around LGBTQIA+ discrimination. Another could be making all employee benefits based on relationships between individuals and not just on what many view to be traditional marriage, families, etc.
If your organisation can commit to taking meaningful action that resolves inequities and improves the daily lived experiences of LGBTQIA+ employees at your organisation, then I certainly encourage you to break out the rainbows, post Pride flag statuses on Slack and jazz up your email signatures, too. Pride colours stand out, and again, they supplementally support the positive message that your organisation cares about its LGBTQIA+ people, like we've done with a spin on our colour logo.
Before you jump back into work mode, I have one final message to relay to you: Pride Month is not just about parades and parties and fun (albeit an added bonus).
It’s about celebrating the wins LGBTQIA+ activists and their supporters have achieved over the years, recognising the struggles so many members of the community have faced – and continue to face, and very purposefully allowing people to be who they are, love who they love, and feel seen, accepted, appreciated and loved in return.”
Happy Pride Month, everyone! I hope you find these suggestions helpful as you put the finishing touches on plans for celebrating Pride this year – and perhaps for years to come! And I dually hope your Pride activities spark insightful conversation among employees at your organisation.