Beyond Pride Month: the fight for LGBTQ+ equality can’t taper off
5 min read | Aaron Barry | Article | Corporate Social Responsibility Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Pride Month now feels like a somewhat distant memory. Countless offices adorned with Pride flags will have gone back to their flag-free walls, and the open, thought-provoking discussions around LGBTQ+ topics will likely have begun to dry up – until June 2024, that is, when the rainbow decorations and LinkedIn Pride posts come flooding back again.
Undeniably, Pride Month has a positive impact on DE&I for the LGBTQ+ community, but it’s imperative that we head in the right direction at a quicker pace. The important conversations and drive towards true equity must be happening for more than 30 days per year; given the harrowing hate crimes and injustices so frequently faced by this demographic, allyship needs to be a year-round endeavour.
Hate crime is an ongoing concern
Almost a quarter (22%) of hate crimes and hate-related incidents in 2022 were motivated by the victim's sexual identity, according to data from An Garda Síochána (the Irish police force). Also in Ireland, over one-fifth (21%) said they’d been physically attacked because they identified as LGBTQ+, while three-quarters (75%) had been verbally abused.
Meanwhile in the UK, half of LGBTQ+ pupils hear homophobic slurs at school either frequently or often, and are twice as likely to be bullied than their non-LGBTQ+ classmates: 42% compared to 21%. These are just some of the distressing figures that highlight why the drive towards true equity must not slow down.
A grave, global issue
Internationally, 70 countries still criminalise same-sex relationships, and for 11 of those, the death penalty is either a possibility or certainty. In contrast, same-sex marriage equality currently exists in just 33 UN countries. While we’ve seen substantial progress since the Netherlands became the first country to legalise same-sex marriage in 2001, there are still some noticeable absences on the global stage.
Until we live in a world where no one is targeted, mistreated, harassed, assaulted, or discriminated against solely because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, we must keep up the momentum. If we want to be heading in the right direction at a quicker pace, we need to be discussing and influencing these pressing issues – consistently.
We can influence change all year round
It was great to see so many companies publicly supporting Pride Month in June, but the real impact to be had is with tangible actions and policy changes. Organisations should be improving and implementing policies that support LGBTQ+ employees and the wider community throughout the whole year: inclusive benefits, trans policies, bullying protection, and fundraising for charities like LGBT Ireland or Stonewall.
An Employee Resource Group (ERG) can drastically improve representation and visibility of LGBTQ+ employees, making them feel supported, seen, and heard. DE&I should be a clear agenda during senior leadership meetings and action must be taken if any concerns are voiced by employees.
Consider other awareness days
To keep the conversation going past June, we also need to focus on the harder hitting LGBTQ+ activity throughout the year. Don’t shy away from Trans Day of Remembrance in November and World AIDS Day in December, for example, due to the increased sensitivity surrounding their subject matter. There are LGBTQ+ awareness days throughout the year that organisations can be supporting to help shed light on issues faced beyond June.
Pride Month is always a welcome opportunity to raise awareness surrounding LGBTQ+ rights, but consider the progress that could be made if we didn’t lose momentum in the eleven months that follow.
To find out more about how you can help your organisation become a positive, inclusive, and equitable environment for all, enquire about our Hays DE&I advisory service.
About this author
Aaron Barry - Marketing Manager at Hays