3 Simple Ways You Can Be A Better Ally To Your LGBT Coworkers

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For new grads, the move from the academic world to the working world is a big transition.

Suddenly, you go from spending all your time with your friends to spending 40 hours a week with your new co-workers. Your environment is one of the biggest factors when making this transition. That’s because a supportive and inclusive workplace is also a productive and happy workplace!

Even if you don’t identify as LGBTQ+, you can play a big part in making your workplace a more inclusive environment. While you shouldn’t feel like you have to transform your office entirely, small actions can make a big difference for your co-workers. There are plenty of ways straight and cisgendered people can support their queer and trans coworkers, but if you’re new to the workforce, you might be unsure of where to start.

TalentEgg connected with three young LGBTQ+ people from various professional backgrounds to get their insight on this topic. Here are their top tips:

1. Google is your friend.

“If someone uses a term to refer to themselves or their identity that you don’t know, that you’ve never heard of, or that you don’t fully understand … just go Google it,” says Melanie, a Master’s student in Toronto. Asking your LGBTQ+ coworker to teach you about their identity can be very taxing and emotionally draining. Taking the time to educate yourself makes for a less stressful situation for everyone.

Some LGBTQ+ people prefer gender-neutral pronouns when referring to themselves. Here’s a quick guide on how to use them!

Traditional Masculine Traditional Feminine Gender Neutral (Singular They) Gender Neutral (Ze)
He laughed She laughed They laughed Ze laughed (pronounced: “zee as in the letter ‘z’)
I called him I called her I called them I called hir (pronounced: “here”)
His eyes gleam Her eyes gleam Their eyes gleam Hir eyes gleam (pronounced: “here”)
That is his That is hers That is theirs That is hirs (pronounced: “here’s”)
He likes himself She likes herself They like themself Ze likes hirself (pronounced: “here-self”)

2. Just be nice.

Follow the Golden Rule – ask yourself how you would like to be treated at work and show your colleagues the same respect. “Really showing respect is appreciating the person for everything that they are,” says Jessica, a Scheduling Coordinator working in the healthcare sector.

3. Treat everyone equally.

It can take a lot of courage for an LGBTQ+ person to be honest about their identity with their coworkers; they may be worried that they won’t be treated the same once they do. Therefore, if somebody does feel comfortable enough to share some of their personal life with you, don’t make a big deal about it, says Kyle, a Marketing Coordinator at a publishing company.

At the end of the day, we all want to be accepted for who we are. Being kind and respectful can do a lot to help your LGBTQ+ colleagues feel supported in the workplace.

Glossary Of LGBTQ+ Terms

TERMS DEFINITION
Straight A heterosexual person; someone having a sexual orientation to persons of the opposite sex.
Cisgender An individual whose experience of their own gender is in agreement with the sex they were assigned at birth.
Transgender An individual whose experience of their own gender does not match the sex they were assigned at birth.
LGBTQ+ An acronym for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer/Questioning, and others. It refers to a population of people united by having gender identities or sexual orientations that differ from the heterosexual and cisgender majority.
Queer An umbrella term for non-traditional sexualities, gender identities and expressions. It includes anyone who wants to identify as queer and feels somehow outside of the societal norms in regards to gender or sexuality.
Gender-Neutral Suitable for, applicable to, or common to all genders.

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