4 ways to use technology that advantages LGBTQ+ workers—for Pride and beyond
How to build a supportive workplace—brick by brick
When it comes to moving fast and breaking things, sometimes the best technology is a solid piece of stone. On June 28, 1969, a well-placed brick is said to have started the Stonewall Uprising with a smash, helping combat the violent police raid that kickstarted the gay rights movement. The brick that broke barriers also built the foundation of Pride Month, which is celebrated annually in June in honor of the event.
Since then, the LGBTQ+ community has recognized the protective power of technology in their ongoing struggle for equality and acceptance. It can be the great equalizer for marginalized groups. But unlike at Stonewall, these groups don’t have to do it alone. This Pride month (and every month), companies and organizations can help the LGBTQ+ community put down their bricks by providing technology that’s a little less crude but equally as effective. Here’s how:
1. Create safe and inclusive digital spaces
Robust anti-discrimination policies, appropriate filters, zero-tolerance for hate speech and harassment—the groundwork of safe digital spaces is about as obvious as a brick through a window. Laying it, however, can sometimes prove difficult. Given the extent of our connectivity, there’s always the danger that online exchanges or data could be revealed to an unintended audience. When the victim of such a disclosure is LGBTQ+, malicious intent should be considered. The amount of personal information you reveal at work is a choice everyone faces, but it can be one with dire stakes for LGBTQ+ people, who may be communicating digitally about sensitive issues with loved ones or healthcare providers.
Protecting employee’s personal lives is just one of many reasons to maintain end-to-end data encryption and effective cybersecurity. It’s easier than you’d think. With the right solutions, employers can establish a data-centric security program that enables complete control over sensitive information—throughout the entire data lifecycle. SHI’s own offerings allow visibility into the location of your sensitive data, including how it flows within the organization, and where it is at risk. By evaluating the current state of your security program and developing a prioritized roadmap for improvement, SHI can help ensure your LGBTQ+ employees feel well-protected in your digital spaces.
2. Develop LGBTQ+-friendly products and services
If LGBTQ+ employees want to be seen, it’s important that you first make them feel heard. Organizations can make a significant impact by developing products and services tailored to the unique needs of the LGBTQ+ community. This can involve incorporating inclusive design principles and benefits as simple as:
- Offering gender-neutral options in user profiles and other customizable user interfaces.
- Using alternative text descriptions for images, captioning for videos, and voice recognition technology.
- Granting access to platforms or tools that address specific challenges faced by the LGBTQ+ community, such as mental health support apps or resources for transgender individuals.
- Providing transgender-inclusive healthcare solutions.
For those accommodating students alongside employees, apps like Microsoft Reflect can be a great check-in tool to support emotional connection, expression, and learning, helping build a classroom ecosystem where students feel safe making mistakes and growing. By actively involving the LGBTQ+ community in the design and implementation process, organizations can ensure that their products and services truly meet their needs and preferences.
3. Amplify LGBTQ+ voices online and in-house
These days, your organization’s online voice is perhaps your loudest one. Simply changing your logo to rainbow colors without any deeper support isn’t the best use of it.
Consider just how powerful social media platforms have become as tools for activism and community-building. No matter their field of business, organizations can leverage their online presence to:
- Amplify LGBTQ+ voices and share stories of these individuals.
- Celebrate the community’s achievements.
- Highlight supportive initiatives and events.
Internally, Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) also play a vital role in fostering inclusivity and supporting your own underrepresented communities. You can provide resources, funding, and visibility to LGBTQ+ ERGs, empowering employees to drive positive change. Technology in particular can aid in connecting these groups by virtually facilitating collaboration, mentorship programs, and networking opportunities. What’s more, offering LGBTQ+-specific training programs and educational resources can do wonders to promote an inclusive work environment, thus attracting and maintaining diverse, happy employees.
4. Partner with supportive organizations (and be one yourself)
If Pride is about living your truth, here’s a near-universal one: People want to do business with inclusive places. Often, it’s an organization’s diversity manager who determines whom they partner with and where their spend goes. It pays to be on their radar.
By making your organization a more equitable place, you can therefore make it a more profitable one too.
In fact, SHI is the United States’ largest Minority/Woman Owned Business Enterprise (MWBE). We are also the only MWBE that maintains a fully staffed team dedicated to supplier diversity matters for our clients and vendor partners.
Plus, collaborating with LGBTQ+ nonprofit organizations allows companies to contribute to meaningful change beyond their immediate sphere of influence. By providing financial support or volunteering resources, organizations like yours can help these nonprofits carry out their vital work in advocacy, education, healthcare, and community support.
We’ve come a long way from bricks, but the goal of equality remains the same. In an increasingly interconnected world, technology has the potential to revolutionize the way organizations support and empower the LGBTQ+ community. SHI is proud of our own inclusive workplace and excited to help you realize yours with the innovative tools we know best. To that end, this Pride Month and every month, let us always recognize the immense power of technology and commit to utilizing it as a force for equality, acceptance, and diversity—throughout all our business processes.