By Salma El-Wardany, Chief Diversity Officer, Solutions Driven
Today is the 1st of June, which means it’s the day that businesses inevitably slap a rainbow over their logo and proudly declare how inclusive and diverse they are.
We’ve watched it happen for years, and while the initial sentiment was one of joy and hope for the progressive attitudes of the brands we loved, it’s time to call out the rainbow charade.
Because that’s exactly what it is; an imitation of diversity without any real policy change or progressive workplace cultures behind those logos. Not to mention the fact that the rainbow symbol seems to have been co-opted by the pandemic and so it’s safe to say we’re a little immune to the rainbows now.
They’ve been in house windows, graffitied on the sides of buildings and placed on every chalkboard available and I no longer know whether we’re celebrating Pride or the NHS.
This year it’s going to take a lot more than a rainbow. There is no magical pot of diversity at the end of it and the last few years of corporate lip service to the LGBTQ+ community shows how hollow a gesture it is.
We need more than rainbows.
We need businesses to look at their policies and see how they can make them more inclusive. We need them to assess their culture and see how they can create belonging all year round instead of one month out of twelve. We need them to interrogate their hiring process and find out where they can be better.
Lately, diversity and inclusion has become a problem we all admire. We stand together and tut and shake our heads. We talk about diversity and inclusion far more than we do anything about diversity and inclusion. We slap black squares on our social media and paint rainbows onto our logos and we sleep better at night. We believe we’re making the world a better place. The truth is, we’re only contributing to the problem.
This month, at Solutions Driven, I’m asking our employees who belong to the LGBTQ+ community to come to me with changes they’d like to see. In our culture. Our hiring process. Our policies. I’m asking our candidates who also belong to that community to do the same.
Making Changes a Reality
I’ll then work as hard as I possibly can to make those changes a reality in our business. Because at the end of the day, what diversity and inclusion really needs is tangible action. DE&I is a verb as well as an abbreviation. Unless you’re making policy or legislative changes, i.e. changes that people are obligated to adhere to, you’re not doing anything.
Having a lunch in your workplace kitchen for Pride month, in which people can choose to go to or not, is not a tangible change.
The month of June is an incredible opportunity to take inventory of your business efforts and actions towards your LGBTQ+ employees, both present and future. Keep those twitching fingers away from the rainbows and instead use this time to think about the trans person who works in accounts, the bisexual project lead, the queer administrator or whoever it is.
Just think about the human and what you can change in your organisation to make that human more included and supported. Everything boils down to people and how you make them feel. DE&I is no different.