Progress of any kind can be slow, it can be fast, and is often inconsistent and has setbacks. That’s why history months of any particular dimension of humanity are so very important. We’ve seen a lot of progress over the course of recent history. Civil rights in the United States, the abolishment of Apartheid in South Africa, the number of countries that have started to recognize same-sex marriage are all examples of progress we’ve seen in a couple of generations. Progress, while monumental when it moves quickly, is often inconsistent and has setbacks and needs constant reminders of why we need to ensure progress is continuous.
History months are an opportunity to reflect on the progress that’s been made and be grateful for the people who have created that progress. Companies can play a role when marking important history months – engaging their employees in the process.
History months allow for company-wide communications and engagement over a sustained period of time. They allow momentum to be created and increased and they allow time for messages to resonate around the company – addressing both direction and consistency.
During LGBT+ history month companies have the opportunity to run internal communications campaigns, to create an energetic push to review and update policies and procedures, and to engage in discussions on the topic with customers and suppliers.
The situation at Starbucks is a good example. They should be thanked and celebrated for their contribution to direction with their powerful “Every Name’s a Story” campaign to support trans identities. What they haven’t done well is that they lack consistency: Trans Starbucks Employees Say The Company Is Letting Them Down.
Encouraging all staff to engage in the process – be that individuals who are uncertain about coming out, team members or team leaders who are uncertain how to handle situations, as well as allies who want to help but don’t know how to – is essential.
It is inevitable that those who feel different will have some sense of caution about whether they are safe to discuss their difference in the workplace. Some workplaces are evidently encouraging, open and supportive – so that time of reflection will be short. Many workplaces are not– only a couple of years ago it was reported that 41% of LGBT+ youth go back in the closet when they go from university to their first jobs. (As an aside I can relate to this personally. I worked for a Japanese technology company for many years, and I was 17 years into my career before I dared come out at work as being gay.
Progress also has another challenge. People will often point to new generations in the workplace naturally bringing in change. That’s only partly true, however. New employees will view existing non-progressive systems in place and wonder “how can I be successful here”. If the organization doesn’t actively seek change it brings about a cycle in which employees suppress their willingness to propose change when they don’t see a culture of change naturally occurring.
It’s also lazy to take that view. Executives who think these issues will address themselves through time “organically” are letting their company’s investors, shareholders and external stakeholders down, and they are also letting down their own people. Action is required. (Have a look at my blog post on making workplace inclusion and workplace diversity strategic.)
Equativo, is a soon to be launched service that provides an inclusive platform for trusted and open communication for employees to be enabled, empowered, valued and engaged at work. It allows employers to demonstrate through action their willingness to change and open up the conversation to progress.
Create the new future for your people and your company – join equativo.
Steven has extensive experience in strategic executive leadership having led large business units at Fujitsu. Steven has had full and operational delivery responsibility for $1bn annual revenue business, including sales / growth, of full-service range (consultancy and change programmes, to operational IT services) to multiple clients. Leading business through changes in strategic direction, crisis management, transformational turnarounds especially those delivering business critical services to clients such as Public Sector / National Government. Steven engages well with C-suite executives and senior stakeholders, including in previous roles with UK Government Cabinet Ministers.