5 Tips for Hosting LGBTQ+ Inclusive Events
PRIDE MONTH IS A GREAT TIME TO CELEBRATE AND SHOW YOUR SUPPORT FOR THE LGBTQ+ COMMUNITY, BUT THE TRUTH IS YOU NEED TO BUILD LGBTQ+ INCLUSIVITY AND AWARENESS INTO YOUR POLICIES YEAR-ROUND. THIS IS ESPECIALLY IMPORTANT FOR YOUR COMPANY-SPONSORED MEETINGS AND EVENTS. IT’S OKAY IF YOU’RE NOT SURE WHERE TO START; WE HAVE THE TOP FIVE TIPS TO CREATING FUN, SAFE, AND COLLABORATIVE EVENTS FOR EVERYONE, EVERY DAY OF THE YEAR.
1. Be proactive with personal pronouns
A pronoun is the part of speech you use to refer to someone in conversation or writing instead of using their given name. For example, instead of saying “That’s Melissa’s dog” you could say “That’s her dog.” Pronouns are an integral part of honoring and affirming a person’s gender identity.
We know that it may be uncomfortable to ask someone what their personal pronouns are, especially when you first meet them at a company event. The simple solution? Include a field in your online registration forms where attendees can add their pronouns so you can include these pronouns on printed nametags, lanyards, or seating charts. Hosting a more casual affair? Encourage attendees to write their pronouns on their disposable nametags. It’s a simple gesture that has a huge impact – it takes the pressure off non-binary and trans attendees, and it teaches everyone else something new about DEI!
Want to learn more about personal pronouns and their importance? Check out our blog:
2. Use gender-neutral restrooms
For many of us, the choice of which restroom to use is not stressful or confusing. But for those of us who are transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming, having to choose between strictly male and female restrooms can be uncomfortable, and unfortunately, sometimes dangerous.
An easy way to avoid this is to request gender-neutral restrooms at your event. Many event venues are already providing gender-neutral restrooms or will convert a binary restroom into a gender neutral one for the duration of your event. Use signage that clearly indicates the restrooms are gender neutral, and then make sure to stock every restroom with personal care supplies. This is another simple act that takes little effort on your part but will make a big difference in the lives of others.
3. Give out swag from LGBTQ+ businesses
An extremely impactful way to support the continued inclusion of LGBTQ+ people is to patronize their businesses. As you check your list of necessary supplies, vendors, goodies, and more, see where you can hire or reach out to LGBTQ+ businesses. If you’re looking for sponsors for a dinner or happy hour, consider reaching out to LGBTQ+ businesses! If supporting LGBTQ+ people is a part of their core values, offer them the opportunity to speak on the important work they are doing and provide resources to your attendees. Who says you can’t have fun and learn at the same time?
Looking for a list of LGBTQ+ businesses you could support? We’ve got you covered! Check out this great Rainbow Flag:
4. Pass the microphone to LGBTQ+ leaders
Marginalized groups will stop being marginalized when they are given the same opportunities to speak and share ideas as everyone else. If you’re searching for a motivational speaker, industry leader, or educator to speak at your event, reach out to an LGBTQ+ professional! Not only can these speakers share their expertise and experience with attendees, but they can provide a diverse and intersectional perspective which will give attendees more insight into how they can be more supportive and empathetic to LGBTQ+ people in their daily lives, whether it be at home, at the grocery store, or at work.
5. Be picky!
The vendors that you choose to work with reflect on your company. Be sure to do your homework on all the third-party organizations you contract to support your events. For example, it can be hurtful to your attendees and damaging to your reputation if you publicly state you support the LGBTQ+ community, but then hire a catering company that openly donates to anti-LGBTQ+ organizations or hire a speaker with a history of homophobic comments. There has also been an uptick in venue scrutiny, whether it be the actual venue or the geographical location. Remember, wherever you host your event will benefit financially from your event: the venue, the local municipality, the state, and the country. In short: Only choose vendors, venues, and locations that align with your company’s moral and ethical code of conduct.
Working toward equality, together
We still have a ways to go when it comes to LGBTQ+ inclusivity. But what we hope this list shows you is that even the smallest of actions can make the biggest of differences. If you’re looking to plan more LGBTQ+ inclusive events, talk to your meetings and events planners about the ways you can make an impact at your next company event. Your attendees will thank you!