It’s June, which means professionals, consumers and students alike are likely “seeing rainbow.” With countless universities and businesses adding a rainbow background to their social media accounts, it’s quite hard to miss. However, it’s also quite simple to ask designers to renovate brand logos. And while the rainbow imagery effectively raises awareness for the milestone that is Pride Month and demonstrates a commitment to the LGBTQ+ community, it’s not enough.
Actually taking the steps and the time to ensure workplaces are in fact inclusive and accepting of all teammate and customer needs is undoubtedly something else. It also never happens overnight.
This month, nearly every business is finding a way to align with the LGBTQ+ cause. For example, Facebook and Instagram are sharing new ways to amplify and spotlight queer-owned businesses by launching a new e-commerce feature called “Shop With #Pride.”
What’s arguably the most important point for business leaders to consider is how to support the cause authentically. A business’s own professionals and external customers are watching – and they’re taking mental notes.
Business leaders recognize that the LGBTQ+ community represents huge buying potential. The LGBTQ+ community represents approximately 10 percent of the US consumer market. Gay men and lesbians own more homes and cars, travel more, spend more on electronics and have the largest disposal income of any niche market. Brands that are not promoting inclusivity or speaking to these audiences could aim to harm their bottom lines.
With LGBTQ+ teammates on staff and as customers, Verbit is no exception. Verbit’s HR team is in the process of expanding both its own root team and the company as a whole. With Verbit’s core mission being one based on making the world a more accessible place to all individuals, inclusivity and diversity are top of mind to its leadership on a daily basis. However, this period of hypergrowth and change happening at Verbit, also makes these initiatives more critical than ever in an effort to further practice what we preach.
Dikla Edlis, Chief Human Resources Officer at Verbit, joined Verbit just a few months ago and is already bringing about noteworthy organization change. She took a moment to share some of her vision around the challenges and goals that she and other companies are likely encountering when it comes to not just LGBTQ+ issues, but overall inclusivity initiatives.
“Inclusiveness is not only about LGBTQ+. It touches everyone on how we accept the many perceived ‘non-acceptable’ notions of ourselves and others. Fortunately, today there is greater openness to explore these differences. In many cases, there’s a deep understanding of how much we can gain and achieve from accelerating a culture that brings these differences together. These major changes can only come through with intentional effort.”
“I see organizational inclusiveness as creating an atmosphere that allows each person to bring themselves to work as they are. Teammates should feel comfortable in their work sphere. When they feel comfortable, they are engaged, perform better and feel proud. I aspire to bring this mentality to our team of Verbitizers. Creating a company culture that allows and encourages sharing passions and interests, as well as vulnerabilities, challenges and frustrations is critical. It will allow us in turn to cultivate an atmosphere for creativity, holism, engagement and success,” she said.
“The ability of a workplace to hold, cope and mitigate these attributes are a crucial piece to the company culture we cultivate. This culture translates into how sustainable our success as a company will be.”
Edlis said the new world of remote work also adds another nuance to the challenges and opportunities being faced by business leaders who aim to be inclusive. When thinking of the hyper growth happening in the hi-tech industry specifically, there are massive changes in global regions, multiple nationalities and time zones at play. There’s also hybrid work models and COVID-19 aftereffects to consider.
Edlis said our ability to be open to the different and accepting of the unknown are critical to a company’s cultural success. Keeping question marks in mind to facilitate communication rather only putting forth exclamation points is a valuable skill teams should consider now, she said.
Edlis continued that one basic item business and HR leaders should take a moment to consider and then put into action is essentially, “‘How do I communicate empathically with another human being and allow them to feel it’s OK to bring their true self forward.’ The implicit assumption should be that EVERYONE has something valuable to bring to the table.”
How a business’s talent identifies, what their passions are and their unique personality traits should be embraced. Doing so allows each individual to enrich the work environment. It’s important for business leaders to create regular opportunities for their talent to bring their different perspectives forward. The result: their colleagues will learn and grow as both professionals and as people from being exposed to a range of peers. Belief systems and former practices may be questioned and re-evaluated, and the overall company culture will continue to evolve to become more inclusive and diverse.
Professionals who lead their companies with this mentality and ground it into their talent, teammates, mission, goals and hiring processes will see true, authentic results. Giving LGBTQ+ and other representatives of diverse groups voices at the table will help to raise awareness of issues and shortcomings, so that changes can be instituted effectively.
It’s also important to bring about these changes in both formal, as well as informal environments like Happy Hours, to create different opportunity types for coworkers to be exposed to or share their perspectives on topics of inclusion and diversity. Last year and again this week, Verbit is hosting a Happy Hour dedicated to Pride Month.