by Sophie-May Cooper, Intern HR Consultant
NationalToday.com say “June is Pride month and a time for everyone to embrace who they are and let the world know – in style!”  And here at Grounded HR we agree. It is important that all staff feel like they can be themselves at work and feel comfortable in their working environment with their colleagues.
The Equality Act 2010  means that LGBTQ+ employment is protected from discrimination, but are you aware of smaller prejudices that may be happening in your workspace? In 2022, The Chartered Management Institute found that less than half of those surveyed reported senior leaders championing LGBTQ+ inclusivity in their organisations. 
It is important to create a friendly and inclusive environment where people can concentrate on the work they have to do rather than spending their time worrying about how much of their true self to show at work.
The exhaustion of trying to hide an important part of yourself at work can affect an employee's health and their productivity. A 2018 Stonewall survey found that 35% of LGBTQ+ staff have hidden their identity at work for fear of discrimination. Here at Grounded HR, we agree with Stonewall that "People perform better when they can be themselves". Make sure LGBTQ+ staff feel supported and create a workplace where everybody can feel comfortable being themselves.
Letting it be known that you are an ally.
You may have seen the LGBTQ+ acronym when referring to one of the protected characteristics in relation to employment and inclusion. At Grounded HR we are proud “allies” to the community.
For me, identifying as both Pansexual and Polyamorous, in the past, I have felt the need to hide these parts of myself at work, especially when I worked with children, I worried that instead of seeing it as a learning experience for the children; that there are many different types of people in the world, that actually the adults would turn against me and that I could potentially lose my job.
The constant having to be careful about what I said when asked about my weekend was exhausting and uncomfortable, it also meant that the relationship with my boss and colleagues wasn't as strong and our communication in general wasn't as good.
Now working at Grounded HR, I am happier and more energised, I can put all of my attention onto my work without having to worry about hiding any part of myself, the difference that a friendly and inclusive work environment can make is amazing. As well as my mental health improving, I also feel more motivated to give back to the company that has been so kind and welcoming and who has fully let me be myself.
Being an ally can be as simple as being friendly and including LGBTQ+ people. For example, if you're going for after-work drinks make sure everybody is invited and let it be known that all partners are welcome to join. Offering your own pronouns when meeting somebody new can help others feel more comfortable in doing so, you could even encourage your staff members to add their pronouns onto their work email signature.
Creating an inclusive work environment
One of the simplest ways workplace inclusivity can be achieved is through educating yourselves and others around you. This is part of continuous learning and personal development both as a colleague and if you are in a supervisory role.
One key aspect to remember is to remain respectful and be mindful of not asking personal questions, but rather wait for your employee or colleague to offer information. You could also add an anonymous suggestion box that lets people know that they are welcome to have their say and be included in the conversation without having to give away details that they might not be ready to share.
Make sure there is a safe space or person that people know they can go to if they need someone to talk to. If you are curious do some research on the topic with charities such as Stonewall, Galop or Mermaids to name a few.
Be sure to also learn about the communities within the LBGTQ+ community that are often less talked about, such as Asexuals, Pansexuals and Polyamorous identities. A 2018 survey by Stonewall found that 37% of non-binary people and 38% of bisexual people have hidden their identity at work for fear of discrimination in the workplace. The more comfortable people are in their work environment, the happier and more productive everyone will be.
Check your policies
Inclusivity can be achieved through being mindful of things such as policies. However, a Trade Union Congress Survey in 2022 found that only half of workplaces in the UK have a policy banning LGBT+ harassment and discrimination. 
You should ensure that you have specifically mentioned the types of discrimination, victimisation and harassment that will not be tolerated within your company. This principle should also apply to your data categories, being specific shows you are aware of protected characteristics and your awareness as an employer to best practice approaches. You could take it further by putting a Transitioning at Work Policy in place.
All employers have a responsibility to protect their staff and if you observe or become aware of an incident/action which needs addressing, you need to take action. This doesn’t just apply to the LGBTQ+ protected characteristic but any form of discriminatory behaviour within the workplace. As well as all year round, pride month is the perfect time to show support to the LGBTQ+ community, letting your staff know that you are there for them.
A few examples are a team building charity event to raise money for a local LGBTQ+ charity, such as a bake sale or a fun run. Having pride flag badges or pins that staff can wear to show their support and to help any LGBTQ+ staff know that they are in a safe space where they can be themselves.