Executive Director, Pride At Work Canada
Pride at Work Canada empowers employers to build workplaces that celebrate employees regardless of gender expression, gender identity, and sexual orientation.
At Pride at Work Canada, we know the all-star lines from the script for selling diversity and inclusion in the workplace: “diverse teams get better results” and “employees who are able to bring their authentic selves to work are more productive.” Unsurprisingly, helping to improve productivity at Canada’s largest and most profitable companies isn’t exactly what propels us out of bed in the morning. Of course, we have data that supports the now well-established idea that inclusion efforts are a benefit to business. But, working directly with LGBTQ2+ communities, we’ve developed crucial insight into the numerous barriers to employment that keep many of us out of the workplace and in poverty.
LGBTQ2+ people are over-represented in our country’s homeless population. Without the supportive network of their families, many LGBTQ2+ youth find it difficult to land their first job. The vast majority of trans people have some college or university education, but about half make less than $30,000 per year.
These pressing issues inspire our work and drive us forward and I’m pleased to say we’re not alone. Founded in 2008 with just a handful of members, Pride at Work Canada now enjoys the privilege of working with people from a cross section of industries who not only bring their whole selves to their jobs but who pour their hearts and souls into making their workplaces the best they can be for hundreds of public, private, and non-profit employers across Canada.
Acknowledgement of that effort is vitally important, which is why we’re so proud to be part of the Celebrating Pride at Work campaign. Employers need guidance from our LGBTQ2+ communities to get it right.
When companies cover their locations and logos in rainbows this Pride season, it’s important for all of us to remember where this symbol of our movement comes from. The first rainbow flag was hand-dyed and stitched for Harvey Milk to carry in San Francisco’s 1978 Gay Freedom Day Parade. Less than a year later, Milk was murdered at work by one of his colleagues from the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. That’s the world into which many of today’s queer and trans changemakers were born. A lot has changed since then, but there’s still much progress to be made.
This Pride season, as many employers make fresh commitments to foster more inclusive cultures, we forge ahead to honour the sacrifices of those who came before us while building a brighter future; one where all of us can achieve our full potential. So, let’s get to work, shall we?