How to be a Better LGBTQ+ Ally to Coworkers and Candidates

Guest: Julian Wyant candidate experience, Culture, Diversity, Employee Communications, Hiring Bias, HR, Managing People, Millenial Voice, Talent Acquisition, Talent Strategy

Being an ally is more than just partying at pride parades and wearing rainbow outfits. Sure, those are a great way to show your support–and have a good time–but being an ally means making your LGBTQ+ counterparts feel welcome no matter where they are. And the workplace is a great place to start.

Creating an inclusive space at work is beneficial to more than just the LGBTQ-identifying humans in your office. Everyone is looking for a place where they feel welcome.

To both candidates and coworkers, inclusivity is important.

Here’s how you can be an even more amazing ally to your coworkers and candidates:

  1. Use inclusive language when talking to new candidates on the phone.

    Assuming one’s gender happens way too often, especially over the phone. An easy way to avoid snafus like this is to use inclusive language–which is especially important as a recruiter. Make sure you put people first, because people are more than just their descriptors. This will show your candidates that you see them as an individual, and that the company you’re recruiting for will treat them with the same respect. Here are some easy ways to be more inclusive in your speech!

  2. Stand up when you see or hear something that makes LGBTQ+ folks feel othered.

    Being “othered” means viewing or treating a person or group of people, as intrinsically different from, and alien to, oneself. Help keep the space inclusive by respectfully shutting down coworkers that say things like, “That’s gay.” This is your chance to show your entire office that you believe in creating an environment where everyone is welcoming, and where being gay isn’t an insult–because it’s not. This can also include using gender-neutral pronouns (i.e., using ze/zie/hir or they/them/theirs instead of he/him/his or she/her/hers).

  3. Be empathetic and hold yourself and your coworkers accountable.

    Show your candidates and colleagues that they can be their authentic selves by being your authentic self. No one expects you to have majored in LGBTQ Studies or be an expert, but it’s all about respect and caring. Being empathetic is not only helpful in showing your colleagues you’re there for them, but it also shows your candidates that you’re a genuine person that they can trust with helping them make their next big career move.

  4. Listen and be affirming.

    It’s just that easy. All you have to do is listen. When an LGBTQ+ candidate or colleague mentions something about their gender or sexuality, listen to them; it’s the easiest way to affirm their identity. When you ask a gay coworker or candidate about their weekend and they respond by talking about what they did with their husband or boyfriend, don’t just go quiet. This is your chance to interact with them and get to know them on a more personal level. It’s easy to make the situation awkward, so don’t. All you have to do is listen and converse just like you would any other conversation you’re having with a straight or cisgender person.

All in all, the best way to be an ally to your LGBTQ+ cohorts and candidates is by educating yourself on the issues, looking at things from a different point of view, listening, and simply being a friend.

Don’t let your top talent slip through the cracks because you don’t know how to communicate with them appropriately. Make sure all candidates know they are heard and respected, not just by you, but by their future employer as well.