It’s Pride Month, and at Pavilion (formerly Revenue Collective), we’re not just celebrating the LGBTQ+ members who make our organization successful, unique, and powerful. We’re also using our resources, position, and power to create more equity in the workplace and beyond — so that our members feel safe, supported, and valued inside and outside the workplace.
“Diversity makes us better,” says Jacobs. “It strengthens us and forces us to appreciate different perspectives.”
But simply tolerating or accepting the perspectives LGBTQ+ members bring to an organization is nowhere near enough. To truly ally with the LGBTQ+ community, organizations should be actively elevating the perspectives and skills of these members to leadership positions and marshaling resources and company clout to create a more equitable workplace and world.
Here are some ways that Pavilion is going beyond basic allyship to solidarity, committing company resources to diversity, inclusion, and LBTQ+ rights — as well as some suggestions for how other organizations can do the same.
How change happens
Elevate LGBTQ+ leadership
One of the most important things an organization can do to support LGBTQ+ equity is to move from a passive, tolerance-based approach — which is tepid and short sighted — to an actively committed organization fostering LGBTQ+ leadership, perspectives, and projects to increase equity. Leaders who do not identify as LGBTQ+ should be actively listening to the needs and concerns of the organization’s LGBTQ+ members, acting quickly and proactively to address equity issues.
But we need to go beyond listening. To truly cultivate diversity and equity, organizations must prioritize LGBTQ+ leadership, recruiting LGBTQ+ members for the highest positions in the company down to entry-level employees. A diverse and equitable company can’t be created by boards and executive teams composed mainly of straight, cis people. To build equity, LGBTQ+ should have the opportunity and space to lead.
Put your money where your mouth is
It’s critical to create equity in the workplace. But if our LGBTQ+ employees leave work and enter an inequitable world, we haven’t done our job. To develop true gender and sexuality justice, organizations should be using two of their primary resources — money and political clout — to support groups fighting for equity in the broader world.
At Pavilion, we believe in investing in the world we want to see. That means donating to groups that are actively fighting for LGBTQ+ equality. Too often, large organizations emphasize mainstream political advocacy that prioritizes more mainstream issues and identities. To truly support LGBTQ+ equity, organizations should be funneling their resources to the most vulnerable communities, supporting organizations that also fight for justice for BIPOC and trans communities. This, in turn, means emphasizing more local, grassroots efforts and supporting the groups that are doing scrappier work on the ground to serve the most marginalized in the LGBTQ+ community.
In our organization, this looks like donating money to larger organizations like the Trevor Project that do important national work to support LGBTQ+ folks in crisis. But it also means investing in organizations that do frontline work to change the legal and cultural structures of inequality. That’s why we also donate to organizations like the Transgender Education Network of Texas, a group that’s doing work in a conservative state to advance education around trans issues and identity and create legal frameworks that support trans rights.
This year, we’re donating $1 for everyone who registers for our Transform 2021 conference to these groups. We’re also linking our donations with organization-wide education, donating money from our internal “g-word pool” —an initiative designed to remind Pavilion HQ employees to use gender-inclusive language instead of words like “guys” — to organizations like Black Girls Code.
Create office-wide culture shifts
It’s important to support LGBTQ+ initiatives outside your office doors, but it’s equally critical to foster an equitable culture inside the office. Organizations should start by investing in LGBTQ+ education, raising awareness on equity issues, and showing employees how they can actively create a safe office culture.
Organizations can support equity through webinars and workshops that educate employees about LGBTQ+ issues and direct them toward office equity initiatives, from using correct pronouns to supporting Employee Resource Groups. Companies can also invest in office-wide transformation by bringing in outside groups that specialize in LGBTQ+ equity issues, educating HR leaders on creating more equitable structures, more accountability, and better resources to address the needs and suggestions of LGBTQ+ employees.
At Pavilion, we’ve invested in these initiatives and in ERGs that are pushing the work forward. We’ve also created an LGBTQ+ channel and an ally channel on Slack, where members can discuss issues around equity, get advice, and brainstorm initiatives to create more diversity and inclusion. Our members have discussed everything from whether or not to identify as LGBTQ+ on resumes or in job interviews; how to better equip HR with equity education and accountability tools; creating monthly LGBTQ+ meetups to foster a sense of community; and making sure to use Pride flags that reflect BIPOC and trans identities. These bottom-up culture shifts are just as significant as top-down and allow people at all levels of the company to educate themselves on and contribute to equity.
Pavilion is committed to using our resources, power, and privilege to create spaces where diversity is celebrated.
“That really resonates within the org and our membership,” Payne says. “To know that this is a space where everyone can be their true selves and get the support they need to grow as accomplished leaders.”
During Pride month and beyond, we hope all organizations will commit themselves to create equity inside and outside the workplace and elevate LGBTQ+ leadership that reflects the diversity and talent of their employees.
Pavilion LGBTQ Resources
LGBTQ+ Slack channel and events (Members can reach out to Member Success to join)