15 December 2021
Joining an employee resource group (ERG) is a great way for professionals to support LGBT+ workers and celebrate diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace.
This article explains how to maximise your impact on LGBT+ equity and inclusion at work by being an ERG member.
LGBT+focused ERGs are formed by employees who volunteer to advocate and promote lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights in the workplace.
Rather than feel alone, ERGs allow people to connect with others across the company who share similar experiences and identities. The psychological safety of feeling able to express their true selves, among people who won’t condemn their sexual orientation, relieves stress and fosters community spirit and belonging.
Additionally, LGBT+ ERG members can impact their employer’s strategic direction. Some groups advise senior executives on DE&I strategy and recruitment, help marketing teams on diverse messaging and keep employees up-to-date with important LGBT+ related events, such as Pride.
-Extra workload: On top of their day job, employees commit significant time to help their employers run internal events, recruitment, HR, marketing and business strategy duties.
-Internal strife: Though members are connected by their passion for LGBT+ rights, each person will have different visions of success. When ill-managed, this can lead to division and infighting.
-Lack of financial investment: Often seen as an add-on rather than an integral part of business, many LGBT+ ERGs struggle for financial and administrative support – leaving some members to pay out of their own pocket for resources.
Engage with leaders using a ‘heat’ and ‘light’ approach
Look at the great social movements over the past 100 years – from civil rights to gay marriage. Both ‘light’ and ‘heat’ approaches were used to achieve change.
The light approach is calm and doesn’t trigger defensiveness or identity threat. The heat approach is blunt, confrontational and pushes boundaries past the limit.
Whether you’re convincing the C-Suite for more investment or trying to attract attendees to a fundraiser, use the right mix of light and heat to persuade colleagues and achieve your group’s goals.
Show empathy for your colleagues
Unfortunately, some people within your company may see your efforts to improve LGBT+ inclusion as a threat to their own identity.
One way to solve this is to try and create an environment that explicitly respects and protects everyone’s identity.
Welcome the most resistant people to share their own headwinds – their disadvantages due to their identity or social background – and tailwinds – their relative advantages.
Sit back and listen.
Rather than feel threatened, encourage them to think of DE&I as a way to develop their own skills and knowledge, while using their tailwinds to help others.
For more information on how to improve your company’s diversity, equality and inclusion efforts, read our free DE&I whitepaper.