I don’t know if I am a good ally or if I am making a difference. And I know I still have a lot of work to do. But, I can tell you what I believe being a good ally is – it means being one in all aspects of your life, professionally and personally, all year long, not when it’s convenient and not only in June, during Pride month.
As a management side employment lawyer, it means making sure my clients are aware not only of their legal obligations concerning their LGBTQ+ employees, but also the benefits of having an open and welcoming organization where inclusivity and diversity are promoted. It means ensuring that LGBTQ+ issues are incorporated into employee training and development; that sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression are included in anti-discrimination policies; that clients large and small consider diversity and inclusion policies and initiatives, employee resource groups and support networks; and that my clients explore effective ways to recruit, retain and promote LGBTQ+ employees. It means ensuring that employer’s health benefits allow for same-sex and domestic partner coverage; that parental leave policies include equal benefits for parents of any gender; and that dress codes are gender-neutral. It means trying to create a workplace culture for LGBTQ+ employees where they feel safe, welcome and appreciated.
Being an ally also means continuing to be an ally when I get home, before family and friends. It means teaching my kids from the day they can understand that they can love anyone they want, using the words boyfriend, girlfriend, husband and wife equally and interchangeably when we talk about relationships; not allowing friends to use inappropriate words that they believe are ‘just a joke’ and teaching my children to do the same with their young friends; and it means putting a sign in my lawn during Pride month to let the minority of gay residents and kids – and the largely conservative town we live in — know that my entire family supports them. It means trying to raise my kids to be part of the generation where hopefully, being LGBTQ+ is just a part of everyday life. (The other day, my eleven-year-old son – on his own and without any suggestion — changed his I-watch wallpaper to the pride flag (and he never listens to anything we say!). So, it looks like he is already a part of this new generation.)
Anyway, Happy Pride.