Pride rainbow flag button pinned on denim shirt

Pride at Velocity Global

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Written by Colin Belcourt, DEIB Lead and Program Manager, Experience Platforms

It's time to face an uncomfortable truth: rainbow logos and social media posts aren't enough. Who remembers the cartoons we watched as kids where the hero would see the outlined shadow of the villain looming and begin to shake and quake in fear? For many in the LGBTQ+ community, this is akin to what it feels like when the looming rainbows and recolored merchandise start to creep in. As Pride Month dawns once again, it’s time to confront the stark reality that performative gestures do little to dismantle the systemic barriers faced by the LGBTQ+ community.

At Velocity Global, we recently kicked off some good old-fashioned work in self-identification (Self-ID). One of the benefits of our Self-ID campaign is that it allows us to recognize and understand our employees better, including our Pride community, and use the data we have to see opportunities to break down more barriers. We’re also working to go beyond the surface-level displays of solidarity and commit to genuine, transformative support through the continued growth of our LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group (ERG). Join us as we discuss how these moments have led to a Pride month where we can advocate for real change within our corporate practices and foster an environment where every individual, regardless of their identity, feels seen, heard, and valued. It's time to turn words into actions and make a lasting impact.

What is a Self-ID Campaign?

Just the words “Self-ID” alone are enough to send people into a panic, so let's turn up the volume here and talk about why Self-ID is so important, especially to the LBGTQ+ community. Self-ID empowers individuals to define their own identities, fostering a sense of authenticity and self-respect, especially as many of us struggled with acknowledging our own identities or existence growing up. The campaign allows people to express their true selves without the constraints of societal norms or external validation, which is crucial for mental health and well-being. This autonomy over personal identity strengthens individual confidence and fortifies the broader fight for equality and human rights within the LGBTQ+ community, both in our corporate lives and the broader world.

So, how did launching a Self-ID survey help our LGBTQ+ employee base? It delivered concrete numbers about the size of our community and also provided an idea of how many employees were either uncomfortable identifying themselves or who did not identify. This informs the need for a safe space.

How Self-ID Can Help

Self-ID can also significantly enhance LGBTQ+ programs that ERGs are interested in introducing as it considers how many people they can affect. When individuals can freely identify their gender and sexual orientation, it provides accurate data that helps organizations tailor their programs and services more effectively. This inclusivity can also foster a safer and more supportive environment, encouraging greater participation and engagement, which - let's be honest - is a huge win for us; having people show up and listen slowly turns the tide of inclusion. Is this going to be an overnight change? Not a chance, but meaningful change takes time, and without these small steps, larger activism efforts can feel out of reach. Moreover, programs built on self-identification insights can better address the unique challenges and experiences of diverse LGBTQ+ members, ultimately driving more impactful advocacy, education, and support initiatives.

How You Can Make a Difference

Speaking of ERGs, how many times have you heard or felt that there was something MORE you could be doing or a bigger impact you could be making? Having a safe space to just exist with LGBTQ+ colleagues was not a reality a decade ago, let alone five years ago. So, if you are out there and you started an ERG for the LGBTQ+ and are wondering, “What’s next?” stop and be thankful. You have already accomplished a huge milestone. With that mountain out of the way, there are tons of different paths you can take that, believe it or not, do not even require a budget! Partner with your talent acquisition groups on inclusive job descriptions for the LGBTQ+ community, partner with your Learning and Development team on making learning content for bias/language (I know this from personal experience - my heterosexual colleagues look at me like I just spoke an alien language when I use slang that any other queer person would understand!), work with senior leaders on mentorship opportunities and building skills for ERG members at the senior or management level. My point here is linear paths are so outdated, and if you truly think that without a budget you can’t make change, then go back up and reread about climbing that mountain or even starting an ERG. Change is there; be kind to yourselves.

One thing I always hear (from community members as well) is that they don’t even know what all the letters in the acronym stand for. LGBTQ+ communities encompass so many unique perspectives and experiences that it's not surprising how much they can profoundly enhance retention strategies, onboarding experiences, and performance review processes within organizations. By integrating LGBTQ+ voices into the development of these areas, companies can create a more inclusive and welcoming workplace culture. For instance, during onboarding, incorporating LGBTQ+-friendly policies and diversity training can help new hires feel immediately valued and supported, leading to higher job satisfaction and reduced turnover rates. LGBTQ+ employees can also provide insights when contributing to retention strategies that address the specific needs and challenges faced by diverse staff members, fostering a sense of belonging and loyalty.

In the context of performance reviews, LGBTQ+ individuals can advocate for more comprehensive and bias-free evaluation criteria. Their involvement can help ensure that reviews are conducted with an understanding of the diverse backgrounds and experiences that employees bring to the table which can lead to fairer assessments, more meaningful feedback, and opportunities for growth that are genuinely equitable. By embedding LGBTQ+ perspectives into these crucial HR processes, companies not only enhance their inclusivity but also drive better overall performance and innovation through a more engaged and diverse workforce.

All of this information may seem like a lot, but believe it or not, it has all been on my radar to kick off BEFORE Pride month. Why wait for one month a year to change the logo, brand some merchandise, and fall into the trap of apologizing for not doing more? I encourage each of you to not wait for the perfect moment. We are a vibrant community full of experiences, both shared and unique that really provide interesting lenses to view our everyday corporate lives. Do your leg work ahead of time so that this month can actually be fun for the LGBTQ+ community and not spent checking off the same boxes. Gay Brunch? Who doesn’t want to attend? Panels and employee stories? Who doesn’t want the spotlight to give them a boost? Cheeky games that make all your heterosexual counterparts scratch their head? Yes, x100. Pride month is what we make it, and I promise you we'll make it the best yet because now more than ever, we have to stand up and be loud. Please make sure you use your voice and say your truth loud and proud this June. 
 

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