Pride month is one of our favourite times of the year and in 2022 it has a special birthday marking 50 years since the first UK Pride demonstration in London. In fact, as my children feel about Christmas, I wish Pride would come every day and not just for one month a year. But as with Christmas, the fact that it comes just once a year gives us its special importance and opportunity for us to really reflect on the occasion and all it stands for.
Pride is a time to celebrate all things LGBT+, it’s a reminder of the progress made, and a time to consider the progress still to be made. An opportunity to thank the trailblazers who have come before us paving the way and a chance to give strength to all those Leaders who will lead the way into the future.
The uncomfortable truth is that so many people are still denied the basic right of being able to be who they are or love who they love, without fear of consequence. So, to all those using their power to champion inclusivity, we say stand tall and keep pushing us forward. As business psychologists and experts in Leadership Assessment and Development, our place to champion this is in the workplace.
Research from Stonewall tells us that around 35% of LGBT+ employees in the UK hide their identity at work for fear of discrimination. This stat makes it highly likely that if you work in an organization with 100 employees, one of your colleagues does not feel comfortable being ‘out’ at work. Do you know the consequences of this for your organization and your teams? We do. We’ve worked with leaders and their teams across many different organisations who are doing this very thing: self-censoring, holding back and watching what they say for fear of revealing their true selves.
So, what about the consequence power of not having to do this? Again, we’ve seen it in practice. We hear leaders say that being able to be your authentic self changes you completely. You deepen your relationships with colleagues, you become more confident in meetings, and you can think more clearly and make better decisions because you don’t experience the utter exhaustion that comes with self-monitoring and self-censoring. In short, people perform better when they are comfortable being themselves at work.
With the war on talent raging at its hottest in decades, attracting and retaining the best and brightest staff has moved even higher up the strategic agenda.
The Future: From Acceptance to Authenticity
Looking to the future, we see plenty of opportunities for progress still to be made in organisations, Pride for us this year, is about moving from acceptance to whole-hearted authenticity. In research we conducted recently on The Future of Leadership we found that purposeful, people-focused leadership that embraces ambiguity is the recipe for future organizational success. Leadership that sets a clear purpose for your people, suppliers, customers, and consumers. Leadership that is unafraid to admit its limitations and to be curious about what they do not know as much as what they do. Leadership that wholeheartedly values people, with levels of communication, self-awareness, and empathy that can help everyone be their best self at work.