Celebrating Pride Month in the Workplace


a hand makes a peace sign in front of an LGBTQ+ flag

Each June, the U.S. celebrates Pride Month, a time to recognize LGBTQ pride, rights, and culture.  After a long history of LGBTQ employment discrimination in the USA, the idea for celebration of liberation sparked after the Stonewall riots of June 1969 in New York.  The riots started between New York City police and the clientele of the Stonewall Inn; a bar located in Manhattan.  In post WWII, the legal system of the 1950’s and ‘60’s held LGBTQ people and their lives, as considered un-American.  A police raid at the Stonewall Inn on June 28, 1969,  set in motion riots that lasted several days.  Through the 1970s, Pride celebrations spread throughout the USA and abroad, with most celebrations taking place in June.

History of Pride

Historically, many suspected LGBTQ people in the US have been denied federal job applications, discharged from the military, and fired from private, public, and Federal government jobs.  The FBI and police departments tracked suspected and known LGBTQ people. The US Post office kept track of where materials pertaining to LGBTQ were mailed, and local bars and establishments throughout states were closed and patrons arrested. 

In terms of employment law, in 2012, the Equal Employment Occupation Commission (EEOC), ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not allow gender-based discrimination because it is a form of sex discrimination.  Then, in 2015, the EEOC ruled that sex-based discrimination protections extended to sexual orientation as well.

Federally, under EEOC, it is illegal to discriminate against an applicant or an employee because of their sex, including gender identity, sexual orientation, and pregnancy (and race, color, religion, national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information).  In addition to federal law, states have a patchwork of state-level prohibitions. Some states extend the Federal discrimination protections to public and private employment; some only protect discrimination of sexual orientation or gender identity; and some have no state level prohibitions on state level discrimination.  As a reminder, state laws are subordinate to Federal laws.  A state law that goes against a federal law is unenforceable.

Everyone wants to feel a sense of belonging at their workplace, and employers should want all employees to feel they belong because it leads to good performance. Having an inclusive workplace makes for an engaged workplace, and therefore, better company results.  According to a Harvard Business Review study, (and others) inclusive, diverse workplaces are higher performing, make better decisions, and behave more collaboratively. 

How might an organization recognize Pride month?

  • Learn about the history of Pride month.
  • Book a speaker to give a presentation about diversity awareness.
  • Evaluate your companies’ policies and standards pertaining to being an inclusive organization.
  • Organize a book club and read about the history of LGBTQ.
  • Attend a local Pride parade.
  • Find out about the many LGBTQ organizations and get connected with one (or a few).

If your place of work could use some help with your diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging processes and programs, FIT HR would love to help.  Send us an email or give us a call and let’s start a conversation.