As we re-imagine our lives after the pandemic, there may be no better time to reflect on our own role in creating workplaces where everyone thrives. Like businesses and brands, individuals and teams excel where there is a sense of openness and belonging, freedom of self-expression, transparency and a commitment to equal opportunity. While we have made tremendous strides as a society, there is still work to do.


Of its many lessons, Pride reminds us of the power of sharing our own story. We are proud to share one of our own with Campaign US as well as our perspective on how organizations can strive to renew their commitments and efforts to further inclusivity, diversity and equality in the workplace, which ultimately, helps us all build stronger teams and more supportive cultures. Read the full article below, contributed by Jim Misener, Principal of 50,000feet.


The Future + You


Last year, as Pride turned 50, so did I. 


With a half-century of perspective as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I stand in awe of what progress we have achieved since the start of my career. The accomplishments that we have made in terms of civil and human rights have been historic, perhaps culminating most recently in the 2020 Supreme Court landmark ruling that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that bars job discrimination because of sex, among other reasons, encompasses bias against LGBTQ+ employees. These protections have profoundly improved the lives of so many, including me.


Of its many lessons, Pride reminds us of the great power of sharing your own story. Stories help us understand other human experiences and ultimately relate to the important conversations at hand. For most of us, this simple yet powerful act can be difficult to do—even for those of us who tell stories for a living.


In my own experience, I feel incredibly fortunate to have had colleagues and peers who were supportive in my earliest professional roles and to have worked in organizations that were inclusive and supportive. However, I experienced moments of feeling a lack of confidence, a sense of not belonging and needing to fit my own experience and sense of identity within someone else’s expectations. With that vantage, I feel not only aware of the increased awareness, recognition and understanding of the LGBTQ+ community, today, I feel a responsibility to contribute. 


Although we have made tremendous strides, there is still work to do. Andrew Seaman, writing for Linkedin News, reports that although the LGBTQ+ community has made great progress during the past decades gaining protections against discrimination in the workplace, significant gaps in protections still remain. This can directly impact the supportiveness of the workplace for LGBTQ+ employees, detailed in the 2021 analysis by the AP


Seaman notes, “these gaps may help explain why nearly a quarter (24%) of surveyed professionals were not open about their identity in their workplace, with 26% of respondents worried that being open about themselves would cause coworkers to treat them differently.” Conducted between April 30 and May 12 for LinkedIn by YouGov, the responses reflected the experiences of 2,001 LBGTQ+ professionals in the U.S. between ages 18 and 69 years.


Times, although, are changing. For Campaign US, Alison Weissbrot adds that one in six members of Gen Z identify as LGBTQ+, according to P+G. As Weissbrot explores what this generational and seismic shift means for advertisers and the work that our industry creates, the same questions may be asked of what these statistics mean within our own workplaces. Every company should recognize that there may be significant differences in perspective and self-identification among their own employees. Actively discussing and promoting the ideas of equity and inclusion may be especially important for creative cultures whereby the conversation is relevant not only to the workplace but also to the work itself.  


As we re-imagine our lives after the pandemic, there may be no better time to reflect on our own role in building environments where everyone can thrive. We all excel where there is a sense of openness and belonging, freedom of self-expression, transparency and a commitment to equal opportunity.


Although we should approach this challenge in a way in which everyone has a role, leadership should recognize that their own attitudes and behaviors have a profound impact on their team’s wellbeing. Senior-level support throughout an organization is directly linked to fostering an environment where employees feel safe, comfortable and free to be themselves. 


Together, we should initiate and guide conversations about inclusiveness and equity, in ways that help to build awareness of perspectives, habits and behaviors that may be discriminatory and foster understanding of the diversity of perspectives both within and outside of the organization. Leading by example means being openly supportive in both our words and actions and being both mentors and role models.


While every companys culture is unique, leadership begins with listening. We should strive to understand the many perspectives that are necessary to consider when designing workplace policies. We should gather these learnings through an inclusive lens and then translate the findings into programs that are open for discussion and improvement, which will ultimately help us all build stronger teams and more supportive cultures.


As a community advocating for more inclusivity, diversity and equality, we have helped change the course of history; and with it, have transformed many lives in truly extraordinary ways. Lets celebrate what we have accomplished together, and marvel at how much further we can go by embracing what makes us uniquely us.