7 Oct 2023
Amy Cozart-Lundin

How to Be a Better Ally in the Workplace: Promoting Diversity and Inclusion for LGBTQ+ Colleagues

In today's diverse and inclusive world, fostering a work environment where everyone feels valued and supported is crucial. This includes providing opportunities for LGBTQ+ individuals to thrive in their professional lives. Creating a work environment where everyone feels valued and supported is not only vital for the well-being of employees but also contributes to the overall success of the organization. In the case of LGBTQ+ individuals, it is crucial to take specific steps to ensure they feel supported and included.


Understanding Allyship

First, let's define what it means to be an ally. An ally is someone who actively supports and advocates for a marginalized group, in this case, the LGBTQ+ community. Allyship goes beyond passive acceptance; it involves taking deliberate actions to create a safe and welcoming space for LGBTQ+ individuals in the workplace. Your actions should be guided by a genuine desire to create an inclusive environment, and they should evolve based on feedback and evolving LGBTQ+ needs. Creating an inclusive environment for the LGBTQ+ community requires ongoing efforts and a willingness to adapt to changing needs.

Remember, creating an inclusive environment is an ongoing process that requires continuous effort and open-mindedness. Stay committed to learning, evolving, and supporting the LGBTQ+ community as their needs change over time. The key is to take action and continuously strive to create a more inclusive and supportive environment for LGBTQ+ professionals. Your efforts can make a significant difference in their professional development and overall well-being. Here are a few ways that actively supporting LGBTQ+ professional development can contribute to a more inclusive and diverse workplace:

1. Fostering a sense of belonging: When organizations actively support LGBTQ+ professional development, it sends a powerful message that individuals from diverse backgrounds are valued and included. This helps create an environment where LGBTQ+ employees feel safe and supported, increasing their sense of belonging and overall job satisfaction.

2. Attracting and retaining talent: By demonstrating a commitment to LGBTQ+ employees’ professional growth, organizations are more likely to attract and retain a diverse pool of talent. LGBTQ+ individuals may seek out companies that prioritize their development and inclusivity, leading to a more diverse workforce that brings a variety of perspectives and experiences to the table.

3. Empowering LGBTQ+ employees: Providing resources, opportunities, and mentorship for LGBTQ+ professional development can empower individuals to reach their full potential. This support can help LGBTQ+ employees develop the necessary skills, networks, and confidence to succeed in their careers, contributing to their personal growth, job satisfaction, and overall productivity.

4. Creating role models and representation: LGBTQ+ employees benefit from seeing successful professionals who share their experiences in leadership positions. By actively supporting their professional development, organizations enable LGBTQ+ employees to gain visibility, creating more role models and representation within the workplace. This representation not only benefits LGBTQ+ employees but also educates and promotes understanding among colleagues.

5. Encouraging allyship and a culture of inclusion: Supporting LGBTQ+ professional development promotes allyship among employees. Allies, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, can play a crucial role in advocating for and supporting LGBTQ+ colleagues. Having a workplace culture that actively supports LGBTQ+ professional development can foster greater understanding, empathy, and inclusivity among all employees.

Actionable Steps Towards Inclusivity

Now, let's dive deeper into actionable steps that allies can take to foster LGBTQ+ inclusivity in the workplace:

  1. Educate Yourself: Education is the cornerstone of effective allyship. Take the initiative to delve into LGBTQ+ history, terminology, and current issues. Read books, watch documentaries, and attend seminars or workshops focused on LGBTQ+ topics. This knowledge will not only help you engage in meaningful conversations but also enable you to provide informed support. Remember that learning is an ongoing process, and staying informed is essential.
  2. Use Gender-Inclusive Language: Language has the power to create a welcoming or exclusionary environment. In your daily interactions, use gender-inclusive language. Avoid making assumptions about gender identity and expression. Respect individuals' chosen pronouns and encourage others to do the same. By fostering a culture of respect for diverse identities, you help create a safer and more inclusive space.
  3. Advocate for LGBTQ+ Policies: Advocacy is a potent tool for change. Within your organization, advocate for the implementation of LGBTQ+ inclusive policies and benefits. These may include non-discrimination policies, comprehensive healthcare coverage that includes transgender healthcare needs, and gender-neutral facilities. Speak up in meetings, collaborate with HR, and engage with senior leadership to ensure that these policies are prioritized.
  4. Support LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Groups: Many workplaces have LGBTQ+ employee resource groups (ERGs) that provide a supportive community for LGBTQ+ staff. If your organization has one, consider joining and actively participating. ERGs often play a vital role in driving change within the workplace. Your involvement can demonstrate your commitment to the cause and help create a stronger sense of belonging for LGBTQ+ employees.
  5. Challenge Stereotypes: Stereotypes and biases can perpetuate discrimination and exclusion. As an ally, it's your responsibility to challenge them whenever you encounter them. This includes addressing harmful jokes or comments that reinforce stereotypes. Encourage open conversations about biases and provide resources for education and awareness. By actively working to debunk stereotypes, you contribute to a culture of respect and fairness.
  6. Celebrate LGBTQ+ Events: Recognizing and celebrating LGBTQ+ events and observances is a powerful way to show support and inclusivity. Acknowledge significant events like Pride Month (June), Transgender Day of Remembrance (November 20th), or National Coming Out Day (October 11th) within your workplace. Organize awareness campaigns, host events, or display symbols like the rainbow flag to visibly demonstrate your commitment to LGBTQ+ inclusion.
  7. Promote Inclusive Policies: As an ally, you can advocate for policies that promote inclusivity, such as flexible work arrangements that accommodate diverse family structures, including same-sex couples and LGBTQ+ parents. Support policies that acknowledge the challenges faced by LGBTQ+ employees, such as those who may be closeted at work, and create a safe space for them to be themselves.
  8. Mentor and Sponsor LGBTQ+ Colleagues: If you hold a senior position, consider mentoring or sponsoring LGBTQ+ colleagues. Provide guidance, networking opportunities, and a platform for their voices to be heard. Promoting their professional growth and visibility within the organization can have a profound impact on their careers.
  9. Get Involved Beyond the Workplace: Extend your allyship beyond the office walls. Participate in LGBTQ+ community events, volunteer with LGBTQ+ organizations, and get involved in initiatives that support equality and human rights. Engaging with the LGBTQ+ community outside of work allows you to gain a deeper understanding of their unique needs and challenges.
  10. Speak Up for LGBTQ+ Rights: Use your platform and influence to speak up for LGBTQ+ rights and equality, not just within your organization but in society at large. Attend public events, engage on social media, and support initiatives aimed at advancing LGBTQ+ human rights, such as marriage equality, anti-discrimination laws, and healthcare access.


Allyship transcends mere passive acceptance; it's a commitment to taking purposeful actions aimed at cultivating a safe and welcoming space within the workplace for LGBTQ+ individuals. Becoming an ally in the context of LGBTQ+ professional development involves proactively initiating measures that contribute to the creation of an inclusive and supportive workplace environment. Whether you personally identify as LGBTQ+ or as an ally, you play a vital role in advancing the causes of inclusivity and equality.

To be an effective ally, it's essential to embrace the principles of listening, learning, and actively supporting your LGBTQ+ colleagues. This means actively seeking out their perspectives, understanding their unique challenges, and showing unwavering support. Your dedication can pave the way for a more inclusive professional atmosphere where every individual, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, has the opportunity not just to survive but to thrive.

Keep in mind that the journey toward creating a more inclusive professional environment is an ongoing commitment. It necessitates continuous learning, ongoing empathy, and consistent action. Let's come together to create lasting change and ensure that inclusivity and equality remain steadfast pillars of our professional journeys.