Pride Month offers many opportunities for bringing awareness to the impact and importance of straight allies and building “allyship.” While progress has been made in boosting inclusion, around half of LGBTQ people report that they have not come out at their workplaces.
This also means their parents, siblings, children, and other relatives may not feel comfortable sharing everyday family stories, or displaying photos of their families at work.
So allyship remains essential in conveying the idea that inclusion is what we all want, not just members of the LGBTQ community.
In my work as a consultant and former Senior Director of D&I for two large organizations, I’ve found that once the topic of straight allyship is on the table, many people are willing to explore the idea. Some already consider themselves allies but don’t know what they can do specifically. And some are interested in learning more, but aren’t sure how to broach the topic at work.
They may ask themselves:
- I think I’m pretty welcoming in general, but what should I be doing as an ally?
- Should I join the LGBTQ BRG (business resource group)? Should I march with the company in the Pride parade?
- I’m not sure if I know anyone here in the organization who is part of the LGBTQ community, so what action is there to take?
Enter PFLAG, or Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, the United States’ largest organization for allies united with people in the LGBTQ community. Their “Guide to Being a Straight Ally” provides insight, information, and tips on how to show up as an ally, from “I’m ready to listen and learn” to “I’m a super ally ready to make change.”
Moreover, the Guide is written in a non-polarizing manner that highlights allyship as being about people, not politics. In today’s political climate in the United States and around the world, this approach can take some of the heat off and let conversations happen from a place of human connection and working relationships.
The Guide has given me tools to have conversations with many people from many walks of life, from one-on-ones with executives to build insight and help chart their course to allyship, to small team discussions on how to build a culture of inclusion, to large auditorium sessions often led by BRG members and allies. Relying on this resource meant I could confidently conduct and sponsor meaningful ally-building discussions with high impact and minimal investment.