June 13, 2022
Out and About: KidGlov Employees Share What Pride Month Means to Them
“It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.”
Pride Month provides LGBTQIA+ persons the opportunity to visibly declare that they are proud of their identity and truest selves. It’s a time to remember and celebrate the contributions of queer individuals and the platform to proclaim that they will not be silent until they have achieved full freedom and equality in society.
Two members of the KidGlov team are part of the LGBTQIA+ community and wanted to share their unique experiences and perspectives on Pride Month and how companies and individuals can be better allies.
“For me, Pride Month is really a time to reflect upon and celebrate the people who fought for the rights that we enjoy today. It is really because of their fight that I was able to marry the woman that I love and that I’m able to live openly at home and in the workplace and do so with relatively little fear,” said Ashley Stuhr, Creative Director at KidGlov.
Pride Month celebrates not just the community, its activists and advocates, but also their past and present fight for rights and equality.
“Having a month like Pride allows us to celebrate our accomplishments and the impact we’ve made on society,” said Maddy Hager, Copywriter at KidGlov.
Representation in the media is important for marginalized groups, especially the queer community. Many people don’t see that representation in their day-to-day lives, so the media played a key part in them figuring out their identity at a young age.
“My high school did not have a GSA club or anything to really address the needs of LGBTQ students,” says Stuhr. “The only representation that I saw was in the media. I really grasped onto every single show and movie that I saw, but I didn’t really put the pieces together or know why until ‘The L Word’. That was really the first time that I saw lesbians represented in media living relatively normal lives, and I became completely obsessed with it. It is ultimately through media representation that I did come to accept this part of my identity.”
“As a young person in Nebraska, I don’t believe that I saw a lot of representation of bisexual women like me growing up,” says Hager. “I always knew what it meant to be gay or to be a lesbian because I have gay family members, but I didn’t really understand bisexuality. I think if I had seen more representation of that, the way that I do now, I would’ve had an easier time understanding myself.”
Sexual orientation is often something we can’t see with our eyes. Because of that, most in the community have to make a conscious decision about when and who they want to come out to. Coming out isn’t something you do once; it’s something you do every time you meet someone new.
“As someone who just does not necessarily outwardly present as queer, the default assumption by others is always that I’m straight. This really makes every casual conversation an on-the-fly decision about whether I’m actually safe to talk about my family in the same way that my dentist, banker, the random person in line at the grocery store next to me, or clients and coworkers talk about theirs. It’s something that crosses my mind almost every time I’m in a meeting with new people,” said Stuhr.
According to the HRC Foundation Survey, 46% of LGBTQIA+ people say they are closeted at work. Many make that choice for fear of safety, judgment, and discrimination.
“Historically, I have not been out at work,” says Hager. “Most work environments I’ve been in, I did not feel comfortable telling people, not because I didn’t think I would be safe, but when you are someone who is attracted to more than one gender, you don’t know what people are going to think of you. I’ve always feared that people wouldn’t take me seriously or see me as professional or try to discredit my work ethic or something about me just because you never know how people are going to react.”
According to BCG.com, 75% have reported experiencing negative day-to-day workplace interactions related to their LGBTQ identity in the past year. It’s up to employees and the leadership team to create a safe, inclusive space for their employees who may or may not be out.
“I have been out since I started at KidGlov. I just made that decision that I didn’t want to hide, and it really always has been a very safe and supportive environment. I feel super fortunate to work for a company that’s not only supportive of me as an employee but even actively speaking out in support of LGBTQ rights,” said Stuhr.
Here are a few ways that an organization can be a good ally:
- Support LGBTQIA+ organizations with your time, money, and voice/platform
- Hire and fairly and equally compensate LGBTQIA+ people, including employees, vendors, freelance artists, and consultants
- Start a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion group or committee in your organization. Make it a central part of internal conversations to push for more advancement in these areas throughout your business
“Companies really need to put their money where their mouth is. I feel so fortunate to work at a certified B Corp because we have standards in place that make sure we’re doing the right thing,” said Hager.
Another impactful way for companies to be an ally is by putting pressure on local leaders, and other businesses when it comes to local regulations and legislation.
“One of the best ways for companies to genuinely support queer communities is to see how those queer people are impacted within the communities which your business serves, and your employees live,” says Hager. “Look at legislation. Is there a bill going before the legislature that could potentially harm those employees, and do you, as an employer and as a business in the community, have the ability to use your voice for good? Can you speak up in defense of your employees and the rest of the LGBTQ people within your community?”
Tokenism is the practice of making a symbolic effort, oftentimes using an employee from a marginalized group. Many in the community experience this during Pride Month, and there are ways to avoid it.
“If your LGBTQ employees are only visible during Pride Month, if you’re only sharing their blog posts at that time or social media posts about them at that time, that feels like tokenism. Support, promote, lift up their voices year-round,” said Stuhr.
A performative ally is a business or individual that attempts to share solidarity for a cause but benefits in some way and often overshadows the cause. There are ways for companies to make a difference, starting with who they donate money to.
“We all know that companies give money to politicians and causes, so companies should put their money towards politicians and causes that support the rights of all of their employees, specifically not putting money towards candidates who are actively working against those rights,” said Stuhr.
Another mistake we see with performative allyship is trying to “show” how much you care, rather than intentionally looking at hiring practices and ensuring that you’re creating a safe, inclusive work environment.
“When I think someone’s being a performative ally, to me, that is putting profit over people,” says Hager. “So that’s saying, ‘This is a new demographic we can target. Let’s target queer people who like cookies and sell them rainbow-decorated cookies, but not actually do anything’ right, because then it goes deeper. The question those companies should be asking themselves is, “What percentage of our hires are out LGBTQ people?”
There are also ways for individuals to be better allies. One is adding your preferred pronouns to your Zoom profile. While it may seem like a small, passive step, it can send the right message that you are a safe person for someone to come out to.
“I do think that anything we can do to communicate to others that this is a space safe is ultimately a good thing. I will be far more likely to reference my wife in a meeting with a client if that client has shared their pronouns because it’s a signal like, “Hey, we support you,” said Stuhr.
A few more ways to be a good ally is to be more inclusive with your word choice, even with small talk.
“Change your language to be more inclusive,” says Stuhr. “Do what you can to make it clear you’re a safe person, so people do feel comfortable coming out and recognize that coming out isn’t just a thing that young people do. It’s something that we’re doing continuously, almost daily, every time you meet someone new.”
“Celebrate someone’s identity, but don’t make that one aspect the whole of who they are as a person. See them for who they are. Being bi is a really important part of my identity. It’s a huge part of who I am, but I’m not just bi. I’m a lot of other things too,” said Hager.
Pride Month is a time to honor and celebrate those in the LGBTQIA+ community but being a better ally should happen year-round. Educate yourself on the struggles they face, learn the bills that are affecting their rights, and pass the mic so they can tell their stories.
KidGlov is an equal opportunity employer that’s B Corp Certified with offices in Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska. See why we’re one of Lincoln’s Best Places to Work, find out what our DE&I and Sustainability Committees are up to, and perhaps make your next career move to join our team.
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