Skillsoft Blog

Building Cultures Of Inclusion That Honor Pride Excellence

June 3, 2021 | by Christopher Whalen, Senior Customer Success Manager, Skillsoft

When the 2021 InterPride theme was announced as: #YouAreIncluded, I was beaming with pride, joy, and hopefulness. This is the message the world needs to hear right now. As organizations ramp up their DEI efforts to create Inclusion Councils and Employee Resource Groups, roll out new learning and leadership development initiatives, hiring DEI leaders, rescoping their talent strategies, now, more than ever before, we must find authentic ways to remind everyone that their voice, their perspective, their experience has value. And more importantly, that their voices and talent are needed as we work toward creating sustainable cultural change. The business case and the human case for DEI has never been stronger, so now is the time for organizational leaders to invest in creating and sustaining cultures of inclusion. Pride Month provides us with both inspiration and a model for how we can do just that.

Cultivate A Shared Purpose and Experience

In many ways, the LGBTQIA+ Community carries and role models a spirit of enthusiasm for positive change that invites and encourages everybody to participate. That’s what Pride Month is all about. All are welcome to join the party, to celebrate our individuality and community victories, while raising the voices of those in the community who remain underserved and marginalized. Even the way the community is identified by its acronym LGBTQIA+ is ever-evolving to help ensure all members of the community are represented and included. Within the LGBTQIA+ community there exists a sense of united purpose and action, especially when we see a need for change. For leaders, creating a shared vision and sense of purpose and pride not only increases productivity, but it also creates an environment where innovative ideas flow more easily.

Commit To Learning and Development

Education is a big part of Pride events around the world. In addition to the many celebrations, members of the community and allies alike have access to workshops, discussion panels, virtual conferences, gatherings for and about issues that impact our community members. It is through these open and educational conversations that we are able to make real progress and take our movement from performative to transformative. We learn, through the words of the people asking for support, how we can support their community in the best way. There is a concerted effort by the community to ensure that all voices and perspectives are invited to the conversation. The same efforts have proven to be successful in organizations where leaders curate learning experiences and programs to educate and support allies. When we invest in education for all, we enable inclusion to take root.

Invite Curiosity and Practice Empathy

As much as we celebrate our diversity during Pride Month and every day, we also recognize and appreciate that, as members of the LGBTQIA+ community, we have a shared, lived experience. As, Dr. Stephen R. Yancovelli shares in his book Pride Leadership, many members of the community have the organic ability to cultivate a deep sense of empathy and desire to truly understand one another’s struggles. We are learners. We tell stories. We are curious. We listen. We are sensitive to how empowering it is when someone sees the unique strengths you bring, and we are equally sensitive to micro-behaviors. Leaders who invite, celebrate, and create a safe, trusting space for storytelling build an inclusive culture faster and more effectively than those who do not. Book clubs are just one way to practice curiosity and practice active listening skills and empathy.

Build A Network Of Allies, Sponsors, Mentors

At the core of the LGBTQIA+ community and Pride is a celebration of intersectionality. This gives us an unparalleled network of allies, mentors, and sponsors to leverage in moving forward our cause. As organizational leaders ramp up their efforts to support DEI efforts and empower employees to build grassroot campaigns and advisory councils, we cannot ignore that without allies, advocates, and sponsors at the most senior levels of an organization, these efforts are not sustainable. As organizational leaders recruit members of all communities with shared identities to lead these efforts, it is crucial to invest in their development, so that they feel knowledgeable and confident leading DEI in their organizations. Executive sponsors are a must, as is an investment in coaching them and helping them develop as mentors, advocates, and champions.

#YouAreIncluded is a sentiment to embrace as champions of inclusion within our organization. When leaders lean into the unique strengths their people, help team members identify those unique strengths, and empower them to develop and grow, the return on investment is expansive.

At Skillsoft, we invite you to join us on this learning journey as we launch a new Aspire Journey for leaders looking to build and sustain cultures of inclusion and belonging and an Off The Shelf series the celebrates LGBTQIA+ authors and excellence.