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8 great ways to celebrate Pride in the virtual workplace

Pride Month

June is Pride month, traditionally marked annually by millions of people as LGBTQ+ communities and allies come together to celebrate diverse identities through parades, parties, picnics, lectures and events. Pandemic restrictions may mean it all looks a little different this year, but it’s still a powerful time to acknowledge and reaffirm the importance of diversity and inclusion in our workplaces — and the value of everyone in your team and business.

Pride itself was born out of a struggle — at its roots it commemorates the Stonewall riots of 1969 when LGBTQ+ protestors clashed with police. This sense of ongoing activism is integral to the annual celebration, and with the pandemic having affected the LGBTQ+ community — with many forced to lock down with families that might not have been accepting of them, as well as facing risks to health or employment — the imperative to remember the struggle and celebrate gains made is in some ways even greater this year.

Observing Pride month virtually in your organisation is a powerful way to underline psychological safety in the workplace, assuring employees that they are welcome and accepted and empowering them to bring their full selves to work. Plus, with the foundation of Pride events being togetherness and acceptance, it’s a great opportunity to connect and create camaraderie between distanced teams.

Your office may be hybrid working or even still fully remote, but either way there are plenty of fun and innovative ways in which you can still join together as a company to acknowledge the accomplishments of the gay rights movement and celebrate equality and diversity. We look at eight great ideas to help bring Pride to your remote working office…

 

1. Chasing Rainbows

It’s all coming up rainbows — or at least it should be during Pride, where colourful expressions are a key part of the celebration’s identity. Invest in flags, banners and pins for staff to encourage participation and create camaraderie — and look into the many different flags that represent specific identities, including bisexuality (pink, purple and blue), asexuality (black, grey, white and purple), transgender (pink, blue and white) and intersex (yellow with a purple circle). Take it even further and invite employees to wear their best rainbow outfits all day — with no limit on flamboyance — and encourage outrageous hairstyles and rainbow make up for everyone, with a prize for the best.

 

2. Video Background

Bring diversity and inclusivity to the foreground by changing your background — encourage employees to change their video conferencing background for the month, either choosing a ready-made one that celebrates Pride such as this great collection by Out & Equal or by commissioning one specially for your company to use for the occasion. Competition is always a great way to bring people together — so offer a prize to the person who submits the winning background and then offer it business-wide for people to upload.

 

3. Pride Playlist

Create a Pride playlist on Spotify — either a general LGBTQ+ oriented one or created around a specific theme — and encourage employees to contribute a song to the soundtrack to your celebration. Spotify’s Pride Hub is a great place to look for inspiration, offering playlists and podcasts that amplify LGBTQ+ creators and artists.

 

4. Virtual Parade

You might not be able to gather with friends, allies and communities in person this year at a Pride Parade, but you can still attend a virtual one. Recreate the experience while remote working by asking team members to film themselves, dressed up, with props, costumes, decorations and even family members joining in, dancing, strutting and celebrating as you would in an IRL parade. Then create a montage, editing together the submitted clips and share or show as part of your Pride event. Or find an organised parade to livestream and celebrate together while watching — Pride Events has a calendar of UK-based events to look at to help you find one to share online, while misterbandb.com provides global listings.

 

5. Support Groups

Take advantage of Pride month to highlight employee resource groups for different identities, including sexual orientation, in your organisation — or perhaps launch them if none exist. Resource groups offer support, safe spaces for people to share their perspectives and exchange ideas — and can be as powerful online as off — providing a valuable spoke to your diversity and inclusion programme. If your business is too small for in-house support groups, then think about partnering with other online groups from other businesses or signposting useful external resources — another good way to make your support of all team members explicit.

 

6. Business Support

Support the LGBTQ+ community and entrepreneurs during Pride Month by using LGBTQ+ -run businesses for your hospitality and virtual event services and goodies. Order food from a LGBTQ+ owned bakery or restaurant, look for companies run by LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs, or book a LGBTQ+ speaker for your celebrations for an online or in-person event — the LGBT Speakers Agency is a good place to start looking. In this way, you will be investing directly in supporting the LGBTQ+ community and its voice, as well as introducing your team to LGBTQ+ companies of interest so that they can also pass their support on.

 

7. History Lessons

Pride didn’t start out as a celebration — it was started to commemorate the Stonewall Uprising in June 1969 when police clashed with LGBTQ+ protesters in Manhattan. And, as such, Pride is as much about education as celebration. So, add some context and history as you recognise the month and bring the struggles and contributions of the LGBTQ+ society in and to society to the fore. Host a lesson on the key points of LGBTQ+ history (the GLBT Historical Society has plenty of excellent resources) or book an inspiring speaker for an online lecture, virtually visit a gallery or museum as a group to look at and discuss LGBTQ+ contributions and representations in the arts and watch a documentary or listen to the Making Gay History podcast, which looks at LBGTQ+ history through conversations with advocates, champions and disrupters.

 

8. High spirits

End your Pride with an online mixer and deliver cocktail making kits to your team to make and drink at home together. Use break out rooms if needed and encourage people to talk about the first Pride they attended (it might even be this one…) and talk about what it has meant to them. To dial up the fun, pair your drink with activities like Pride bingo, a Pride quiz or even a Pride-themed happy hour movie using Netflix’s watch party app — choosing a classic from this 30 Best LGBTQ Movies of All Time list.

 

Tips for a Great Remote Pride Celebration at Work

 

  • Maintain a safe and comfortable environment for your team by communicating ground rules to staff at the beginning of the celebrations.
  • Pride is about togetherness, tolerance and acceptance, so make sure office celebrations are both open to everyone and something in which all can participate.
  • Put emphasis on allyship and inclusivity to encourage as many people as possible to join in. In this way too, employees who are not comfortable drawing attention to their sexuality or gender orientation at this time can still enjoy the celebrations.
  • Avoid stereotypes and tokenism. It’s important to recognise that individuals experience and express their LGBTQ+ identities differently, so avoid making assumptions or generalisations that might offend or alienate.
  • While Pride is about togetherness and inclusion, it is important to respect all team members’ feelings and beliefs and not force anyone to participate. There may be a number of reasons why people opt out of celebrating Pride month: love and sexuality are intensely personal issues and cultural backgrounds or religious beliefs may not fit with Pride or make it unsafe for them to join celebrations. Be aware, and encourage rather than mandate.