Pride Month is a time to celebrate how far we’ve come, but being a true ally happens all year. Felipe Cerqueira, Ceridian’s Pride Chair, shares how to do it right.
Let’s be honest – Pride Month is a lot of fun. From the bright, rainbow colors everywhere to the welcoming sense of community at Pride events, it’s a time of year that brings out the best in many.
But beneath the festive atmosphere, there’s a deeper message that easily gets lost as many brands hop on the bandwagon without investing in meaningful change all year long. The real significance of Pride Month is that despite making progress worth celebrating, there’s a lot more work to be done. Especially when it comes to addressing the lack of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace.
Here are a few stats to illustrate the point:
50% of LGBTQ employees are not out to their current supervisor
More than a quarter (26%) are not out to any coworkers
46% have experienced unfair treatment at work
Less than 0.5% of Fortune 500 CEOs are LGBTQ
So how can we build meaningful, lasting change for the 2SLGBTQ+ workforce? It requires work and commitment at every level of the organization. Not just during Pride Month, but all the time.
Every employee can make a difference, no matter what level of the organization they sit in, by becoming an ally. But what does that really mean, and how can allies make meaningful change? We sat down with Felipe Cerqueira, Ceridian’s Pride Chair, to get his take.
Q: What is an ally, exactly?
A: Over the course of my 33 years of life, I’ve experienced allyship in many different forms. Allies should try to make the world a better place for anyone who identifies as 2SLGBTQ+ by calling out discrimination and fighting for equality.
When I really think about it, it all comes down to one thing: Caring. To be an ally, you must genuinely care about the well-being of the 2SLGBTQ+ community. Allyship can manifest itself in many ways, but it starts with a foundation of education, advocacy, action, and a desire to learn from your mistakes.
Q: Why do you believe allies are important to the 2SLGBTQ+ community?
A: As the stats in this article show, the community is still extremely marginalized. And while we have a sense of community during Pride Month, it’s not always like that in other areas of life where we exist, such as the workplace.
Allies are important to help amplify our voices and break through the stereotypes and biases that some outside the community may hold. This is especially true of those in power positions, such as people managers and leaders at work. Their voice may get heard because of their position, so speaking up is critical.
Allies are important in all aspects of our lives – work, school, even family. Having people that are there to champion us is fundamental and will help 2SLGBTQ+ people feel supported as they navigate challenges.
Q: What does it mean to be a great ally?
A: A great ally is the one who uplifts the community. The one who speaks up, but also knows when to listen and let others be heard. It’s the one who makes wherever they are a welcoming space for the community.
And as I mentioned, allyship comes hand-in-hand with education. A great ally doesn’t wait to be taught – they take the initiative to educate themselves. When they’re leaders who can influence others, they work to help educate those around them. Allies lead by example, and others follow, which helps create a more inclusive and equitable culture.
Here’s a controversial opinion: Allies aren’t always outside the community. We need them inside the 2SGBTQ+ community, as well. As a gay, cisgender man, I want to make sure I am an ally to the most marginalized queer voices: Sex workers, and Black, Latinx, and trans communities.
Q: What should allies be doing during Pride Month? What about the rest of the year?
A: Pride Month is a great opportunity to come out as an ally. Show support, reach out to people, engage with the community, and stay informed.
Use Pride Month to raise your voice, but also to listen. Celebrate, but also educate yourself and others. Recognize your privilege and use it for good.
Pride month is also a time for reflection. Use it to break your own unconscious bias and grow in your role as an ally. Part of that growth is understanding that allyship goes beyond Pride and the rainbow tshirts.
Here are a few key steps to take to help make meaningful change a long-term reality:
If you hear an anti-2SLGBTQ+ comment or joke, speak up and explain why such comments are inappropriate, harmful, and offensive.
Integrate inclusive language into your regular conversations. Learn about pronouns and how to best use them.
Add your pronouns to your email signature or share them when introducing yourself to new people.
Read a 2SLGBTQ+ publication, watch a movie, or listen to a podcast. There are many creators out there sharing their stories and knowledge.
Create safe social settings where you can bring your 2SLGBTQ+, straight, and cisgender friends together.
Get politically involved. Look for a pro-2SLGBTQ+ group in your region or contact elected politicians about 2SLGBTQ+ rights.
The message is clear, stand up for 2SLGBTQ+ issues in every aspect of your life — even if there are no 2SLGBTQ+ people there to watch.
, ,  Brad Sears, Christy Mallory, Andrew R. Flores, Kerith J. Conran, LGBT People’s Experiences of Workplace Discrimination and Harassment, UCLA School of Law Williams Institute, September 2021
 Aimee Hansen, LGBTQ Updated: Building a Rainbow Pipeline, The Glass Hammer, June 2019