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5 Ways to be a friend with your LGBTQIA+ colleagues at work

Pride month is June, a time for reflection and support for our LGBTQIA+ peers. Find out five ways to foster an inclusive workplace and be an ally for your queer colleagues. Pride Month is a time for us to celebrate and uplift our LGBTQIA+ colleagues and to honor those who have blazed a path for freedom. We are all pretty cool and it’s high time we get to know each other better.
I am a queer person who identifies with the T in LGBTQIA+ and have found that allyship has been incredibly beneficial to me and my peers. It seems like the process of coming out and living your truth is an ongoing one. As we get to know each other better, I will continue to need to expose myself to new colleagues. It is important to be authentic. Before coming out, I felt inauthentic and scared a lot. We need to be able to see the big picture and have each other’s support in order for us all to succeed.
Here are five ways to be a better friend to your queer coworkers. These principles have been very helpful in my work with Datto’s Pride Employee Resource Group.
Respect our privacy and help foster a secure environment
Although it may seem obvious, privacy is an important resource. Privacy is a top priority for many queer folk. Privacy can be for many reasons. Our allies should understand that there are certain information that individuals don’t have the right to, such as details about their bodies and intimate relationships, so that we are treated properly.
To reach our full potential, it is important to create a safe environment for our psychological well-being. It gives us a sense of security to be able to confide in others.
When starting a potentially sensitive conversation, one way to do this is by asking “Are you comfortable to talk right now?” The questions are open-ended and cover both psychological and physical safety. They also help ease fears without asking direct questions.

Do business with us, not around us
We feel empowered when we work with you. When we feel empowered, we work better and will want to collaborate more with you. This is crucial for us all to succeed in our endeavors. This makes us better colleagues, and maybe even friends.
Being around someone can mean that they may not be able to perform work well, which can lead to problems in the team. This person might feel different and their team may resent them.
Asking questions is a way to encourage collaboration and empower others. This can foster a collaborative relationship and engage us. This helps us to realize our potential. We want to realize our potential. Please help us achieve this.

Do not Tokenize Us
Tokenism is defined as “the practice or inability to make a meaningful effort to do something, especially by recruiting a small group of people from underrepresented groups to create the appearance of equality within a workplace.”
This could be seen in the workplace when an employer uses an employee’s image and words in marketing materials to make it seem more diverse, but doesn’t listen or address the concerns of that employee about LGBTQIA+ issues within the organization.
Although it may appear to be a positive thing, it can actually cause more harm than good. Tokenism can make a person feel isolated from their peers. This can lead to increased stress levels, increased attention on one’s performance, and more discrimination in future. This can lead to both negative outcomes for us as well as those we work with.
We are all people. We should celebrate our successes, but remember that we face specific challenges that require your full attention if we are to thrive. We are more than tokens. We are people, and we need your real love.

Listen to our Stories, Voices
Sometimes it can be difficult for us to share our deepest stories. Please listen to our stories as allies, so that you can share them with others. These stories should be heard by others so that they can understand us as well.
Listening to understand is a better place to start than listening to your responses. To do deeper work, it would be important to allow for quieter voices to speak and ask questions. While opinions are fine, we must remember that we all have our own unique perspectives and that each person is different. This and listening will go far in helping others.
Bring a friend to listen.

Be a Witness to Our Challenges
Our struggle continues. There are many anti-LGBTQIA+ laws in the U.S. state legislatures at present. Although we have made some progress, there is still much to be done. As we fight for justice, please be a witness to our struggles and help us as much as possible.
You should be on the lookout for workplace aggression or harassment. If you observe a situation where one of your colleagues was made uncomfortable, please let us know.