Pride 2021: A Month to Celebrate and Reflect

By Emma McClelland - 05 June 2021

One of the great things about the month of June, as well as the sunshine, is that it’s Pride Month. It’s a time to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community and continue to defend their rights. It is held in June to commemorate the Stonewall riots, which took place in New York on 28th June, 1969 after police tried to raid a popular gay bar called the Stonewall Inn. You may have heard of the UK charity Stonewall, which actively protects and lobbies for LGBTQ+ rights. 

As well as the colourful Pride parades that take place around the world, there are also many moments of reflection. As a charity working in the employment rights space, we’d like to reflect on some of the experiences LGBTQ+ people have in the workplace and suggest what employers can do to make their companies more inclusive and welcoming. 

In June last year, McKinsey carried out some research on the challenges LGBTQ+ employees face. They surveyed more than 2,000 employees at a variety of organisations worldwide, including employees at all levels of experience, from entry-level roles to CEOs. Here's what they found.

More than one in four LGBTQ+ respondents aren't ‘out’ at work

Feeling comfortable enough to be ‘out’ at work is important. It allows people to be the truest version of themselves and to act authentically. McKinsey’s survey found that many employees aren’t in this position and that coming out at work is more challenging for women and junior employees. Only 32% of LGBTQ+ respondents below the level of senior manager reported being out to their colleagues, compared to 80% of respondents in senior leadership positions. Why is this the case? There are a number of reasons, but two stood out to us. 


One British respondent to the survey recalled an instance where a client asked that an LGBTQ+ colleague be removed from the team "because they weren't happy a gay person was on it". Fortunately, the company stood behind them and raised it with the client's senior management, but you can see how this kind of intolerance might lead to members of the LGBTQ+ community being passed over for opportunities to work on certain projects. 


Many of the survey’s respondents reported having to deal with microaggressions in the workplace, such as hearing disparaging comments or jokes about themselves or people like them. More than 60 percent of LGBTQ+ respondents reported needing to correct colleagues’ assumptions about their personal lives, such as the gender of their partner, which can be exhausting when it happens a lot. 

What can businesses do to be more inclusive?

McKinsey’s report recommends several steps employers can take to make the working environment more inclusive to LGBTQ+ employees, including:

  • Introducing a non-discrimination policy that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • Creating a family leave policy that treats all parents equally.
  • Providing medical leave for colleagues who are transitioning.
  • Having HR systems and documents that are inclusive of all genders and personal pronouns.

Sadly, for many of the people we support as a charity, who hold precarious employment or work informally, it is unlikely that steps like these will be applicable. Many unscrupulous employers we come into contact with provide little in the way of benefits or support. This is why it’s so important to help people in this position to leave precarious work behind and find lawful, fair employment. 

We continue to support those who have experienced discrimination or unfair dismissal, whether this is based on gender, age, sexual orientation or any other protected characteristic. To do this, we rely on the work of our multilingual team and our supporters. If you can, please consider making a small donation to help us continue to defend people’s rights. 

We wish everyone a happy Pride and congratulate the organisations and employers working to make life and work fair, equal and inclusive. 

Further resources

For couples making immigration applications, we recommend Rainbow Migration

To read more on the experiences of LGBTQ+ asylum seekers in Europe and the UK, we recommend this article from Stonewall

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