Pride Month recognizes the accomplishments and contributions of LGBTQ+ people throughout history. It’s also an opportunity for all of us to recognize the ongoing fight for equality and the progress yet to be made. LGBTQ+ rights remain under threat, making Pride both a celebration and a protest. We should all take this month to raise awareness about both parts of the story.
I’d like to do my part. My purpose in my posts is always to share my experience and knowledge from working in the staffing industry and DE&I community. Personally, I would love to write about the amazing, talented people in the LGBTQ+ community and the myriad ways they have contributed to society, but professionally, I figure I should write what I know—with an LGBTQ+ focus.
For starters, no matter who you are, it’s important to take advantage of the specific resources available to underrepresented businesses. They can really help. Corporate diversity programs, industry organizations and networking opportunities for minority-owned businesses are all things that we have benefitted from. We have been active members of our local NMSDC chapter for years and have developed helpful relationships as a result. Over the course of more than 30 years in business, we’ve worked with countless diversity programs and the many great people that run them. They have helped us understand their companies’ needs better and assisted us in becoming a supplier.
Organizational Knowledge is Power
Organizations like the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce and the Small Business Association Network for LGBT Business are valuable resources. Knowledge is a difference-maker—who you know, what you know, when you know it—and good industry organizations help you increase your knowledge and get better opportunities. But not everything is a fit for everyone. Maybe the local chapter is more helpful than the national stuff, or maybe a national conference is better to meet the right connection. You’ll figure out which ones click for you, but please don’t think they are irrelevant or dismiss all of them because of one bad experience. This article covers 14 great resources for the LGBTQ+ business community.
Programs to Drive Diversity
Similarly, formal diversity programs have been a great help to us. Breaking into the corporate ranks can be a daunting task. Good programs provide opportunities to learn about their businesses and how to navigate their processes. They can provide information on the products and services they are looking for and help connect you to the decision makers. Don’t forget to take advantage of certification to help your efforts—for example, “LGBTQ+” falls under supplier diversity spend. Companies that are truly committed to their diversity goals—and there are many of them—are trying to find you!
Take Pride in Getting Help
The private sector has realized that their outreach efforts to LGBTQ+ businesses have often lagged behind those made to women and minorities, and they are making concerted efforts to address this. Accept their help. Do the research and see which ones are demonstrating that commitment and would be the best for your company to work with. There is no single thing that ensures business success, but taking the help that others offer is one tool you should always use.
Respect in the Workplace is Universal
Since I work for a Hispanic, woman-owned business, I am very familiar with the resources available to businesses, but I think that my advice is applicable to LGBTQ+ individuals seeking employment, too. Everyone wants to be respected and treated fairly and equally in the workplace. You’ve got a better chance of finding a company like that if you do your research before applying. Start with their website—you’ll quickly get an idea of their culture and commitment. Do their policies and activities seem supportive? What does their mission statement say? Is there evidence of it in action? Do they share your values? Are they supportive of LGBTQ+ issues and rights outside of the workplace? You can answer these questions and make an informed decision to apply or not. There are also job boards and other sites that cater to the community and can help you find LGBTQ+ friendly companies. Take note of those who are reaching out to you.
Once again, happy Pride to all my LGBTQ+ friends, colleagues, clients, and, well, everyone! I hope that you have a great month of recognition and celebration. I especially hope that I’ve provided information that helps you be more successful.