LGBTQ+ allyship starts with education
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LGBTQ+ allyship starts with education

2 months ago · 2 min read · AICPA Insights Blog

To foster the creation of safe and inclusive workplaces, the AICPA® & CIMA® LGBTQ+ Initiatives Committee, led by a diverse mix of AICPA and CIMA members, has created the LGBTQ+ Inclusion in Action Toolkit: How to advance from idle to ally to advocate.

The toolkit is robust and contains resources, tools and information that employees and organizations need to create more inclusive workplaces.

“We wanted to create a one-stop shop of information about the LGBTQ+ community where people who aren’t familiar can easily start educating themselves and feel informed,” said Brittany Brashear, lead manager ― LGBTQ+ Initiatives at AICPA & CIMA, together as the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants®. “It’s meant to be a tool to help users learn. It also encourages taking the temperature of where your organization is in their journey to LGBTQ+ advocacy, where you are in your journey as an employee, and provides tips on facilitating a more inclusive work environment.”

Resources within the toolkit include:

  • Self-assessment

  • The meaning of LGBTQ+

  • A timeline of historical and current LGBTQ+ events

  • A summary of terms of phrases to avoid

  • A guide to pronouns

  • Applications for moving these skills forward

  • Steps on advocacy

  • Additional resources

  • A glossary of terms and language

The toolkit is a resource for employees at all levels, featuring assessments to help identify and process current beliefs and biases to aid the self-reflection journey.

Whether an employee is in the early stages of their education journey, or an executive is looking for additional steps to take at their organization, Brashear added that education is a continual process, and everyone always has something to learn.

Ally and advocate: the language of inclusion

The concepts of “ally” and “advocate” can somewhat confuse those early in their education journey.

Allies align themselves with causes, individuals or groups of people; advocates publicly support and actively take their influence and use it to boost equity in the community. Not everyone may be comfortable with advocacy, and allyship may be more accessible. Allyship and advocacy are important to ensure the LGBTQ+ community feels safe and supported. However, Brashear said advocacy is standing up for a co-worker in a tough situation and speaking up on their behalf.

Constant education and being willing to learn are traits of both allies and advocates.

“Sometimes people are scared. They’re afraid of making mistakes,” Brashear noted.

It’s important for leaders not to let that fear translate to inaction. An inclusive leader practices self-reflection, acts on what they learn and actively seeks opportunities for personal development. Learning, growth and development are hard and sometimes uncomfortable, but leaders can become more informed allies and powerful advocates when they lean into discomfort.

We should also be willing to extend each other grace while we learn. That will help reduce some of the fear people possess and allow for more advocacy.

The need for workplace advocacy

Advocacy starts with learning that necessitates reflective, conversations.

“An ally is an advocate more willing to put themselves out there for their peers. It’s important for all organizations and colleagues to show allyship, not just to the LGBTQ+ community but to ethnic minorities, women and neurodivergent colleagues,” Brashear said.

“When we talk about diversity and inclusion, we need to make sure that people are OK with having these conversations because they need to happen,” Brashear explained. “Sometimes people want to shy away from them because the conversation is uncomfortable. But that's how we create these safe and inclusive spaces where people feel like they belong and don't have to hide themselves.”

When biases are addressed, internal policies are assessed and inclusive practices are embedded, LGBTQ+ employees feel supported and can show up to work — and in the world — as their most authentic selves.

To learn more about how to become an LGBTQ+ advocate, and to aid you on the personal journey of self-reflection in cultivating safer working environments, reference the LGBTQ+ Inclusion in Action Toolkit.

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