This past year and a half, we have all gotten a view into our coworkers' homes, children, pets, partners, and lives outside the office. As a result, we have had an intimate look into our colleague's kitchens, bedrooms, offices, and other random areas in homes that we likely would have never seen without a global pandemic, mandatory work-at-home orders, and the need to quarantine.
I am lucky enough to have a room where I could have a dedicated office. When I'm on a Zoom, Teams, or one of the other many web conferencing platforms, my background is my favorite painting, pictures of my kids, husband, and business books that I especially love. If I'm honest, I chose what shows up behind me with intentionality – hoping to connote professionalism while also showing a bit of my personality.
Not everyone feels comfortable sharing their personal lives at work.
According to a new LinkedIn survey, nearly a quarter of LGBTQ+ professionals in the U.S. hide that part of their lives at work. While I proudly display my kids’ and partner’s faces, employees who identify as LBTQ+ may choose not to show loved ones on their desks (or backgrounds in a virtual setting).
They also may avoid conversations about weekend plans, nights out, or anything that may give coworkers a window into their lives outside of work. Twenty-six percent of those surveyed by LinkedIn feared being open about their identities at work would cause coworkers to treat them differently.
This fear is well-founded – “nearly a third (31%) of LGBTQ+ professionals say they’ve faced blatant discrimination and/or microaggressions at work. A quarter of survey respondents said they left a job in the past because they did not feel accepted at work.”
On the flip side, the survey reports, “Those who are open at work as LGBTQ+ individuals said that it has helped them connect with others for support and build better relationships within their profession. They also said they feel like a weight was lifted when they came out at work.”
So how do we as leaders encourage our teams and colleagues to feel comfortable and safe enough to bring their “whole selves” to the workplace?
Building and supporting a culture of inclusivity
Using gender pronouns is a start. In an NPR report, Alex Schmider, Associate Director of transgender representation at GLAAD, compares using someone's correct pronouns to pronouncing their name correctly – "a way of respecting them and referring to them in a way that's consistent and true to who they are."
LinkedIn and Instagram have now made it possible for its members to share gender pronouns on their profiles, and changing your gender pronoun is a start to helping our LBTQ+ colleagues feel seen.
If you're looking to learn how to navigate gender identity, NPR, in partnership with GLAAD, recently released a glossary of terms relating to gender identity. "Pronouns are basically how we identify ourselves apart from our name. It's how someone refers to you in conversation," says Mary Emily O'Hara, a communications officer at GLAAD. "And when you're speaking to people, it's a really simple way to affirm their identity."
As the authors of the NPR glossary note, “Inclusion efforts to increase the diversity of employees, at every level, won't end with a glossary, but this resource can encourage efforts to create more tolerant and respectful workplaces.”
Creating a culture of inclusivity is a must for any leader and educating ourselves to become better allies to our LGBTQ+ colleagues is a start.
If you’re wondering what meaningful actions you can take during pride month, donating to the organizations below would be a way to make an impact.
The Trevor Project
The Billy DeFrank LGBTQ+ Community
The SF LGBT Center
At Splashtop, we have committed to matching employee donations to any of the organizations mentioned above up to $10,000 per employee.
Interested in becoming a part of our inclusive culture? Join us!