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Yum! In The News

What does LGBTQ+ allyship mean?

If you don’t identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer, you can still make a positive impact this Pride Month and beyond. Here’s how.

Yum! Brands celebrates LGBTQ+ Pride Month

Published on June 11, 2019

In June 1969, patrons of New York City’s Stonewall Inn clashed with police in what are now known as the Stonewall riots, marking the beginning of the modern day LGBTQ+ equality movement. Fifty years later, we celebrate Pride Month during June to commemorate that watershed moment, taking time to reflect on the strides that have been made toward equality and to remember that there is still more to accomplish.

At Yum! Brands, we “believe in ALL people” and are encouraged to embrace our differences, so it can be easy to forget that there are companies, organizations and entire regions that do not share this mindset. We can also take for granted the experiences of LGBTQ+ people within our own organization and how they may still feel excluded or uncomfortable by being 100% authentic.

For LGBTQ+ people, this could manifest itself in a variety of ways, such as not talking about dating or relationships when their coworkers do freely, or presenting as more “masculine” or more “feminine” in a group setting just to fit in. In some cases, LGBTQ+ people may feel the need to remain completely closeted and will go to great (and often unhealthy) lengths to not be found out.

This is why the LGBTQ+ community needs allies.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), which is the largest U.S.-based civil rights organization working to achieve LGBTQ+ equality, defines “ally” as “a term used to describe someone who does not identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer, but who is supportive of LGBTQ+ individuals and the community, either personally or as an advocate.”

Employees at 2018 Kentuckiana Pride Festival.

Earlier this year, Yum!’s LGBTQ+ employee resource group Yum! Pride Network (YPN) hosted a discussion with HRC Workplace Equality Acting Director Beck Bailey, who gave an informative presentation about the importance of allyship. During the discussion, he talked about the positive impact allies can have on their LGBTQ+ coworkers when they enable them to be their authentic selves.

The logic is simple.

1. An ally makes someone feel safe and included.

2. When you feel safe and included, you can be your authentic self. Those in the minority often don’t feel safe and included, which can lead to them masking their true identity.

3. When you’re not diverting focus and mental energy to hiding, you’re able to put more focus on achieving great results.

Ultimately, allyship and authenticity are good for business. The more allies there are, the more inclusive a workplace can truly be. A more inclusive workplace has a higher likelihood of attracting and retaining a diverse pool of top talent, and studies show companies with diverse talent have a competitive advantage that leads to profitability.

So, how can you be an effective ally? Below are 10 helpful tips pulled together by the HRC:

1. Be open. You may not know a lot about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) people. That's OK! Be open to learning.

2. Educate yourself. Take responsibility for learning about the LGBTQ+ community and the issues it faces. The HRC’s Explore page is a great place to start.

3. Know the vocabulary. Understand definitions of sexual orientation and gender identity as well as other key concepts and vocabulary. Knowing the language signals your support and allows you to speak comfortably with LGBTQ+ people and knowledgably advocate on their behalf.

4. Challenge yourself. We all have conscious and unconscious biases. Take a personal assessment of your thoughts, feelings and attitudes toward LGBTQ+ people. Cultivate self-awareness even if it's uncomfortable.

5. Be supportive. Let your LGBTQ+ colleagues know you are there to support them. If you aren't sure how to be supportive, just ask! Say: "I consider myself an ally and would like to support you, but I am not sure how. Can you tell me how I can help?"

6. Use inclusive language. Don't assume everyone is straight and/or cisgender. Use gender neutral language, like "spouse," "partner" or "child." This includes everyone and signals your awareness. It's always best to be universally inclusive — you never know who around you is the parent of an LGBTQ+ child or partner or loved one of an LGBTQ+ person.

7. Mentor and sponsor LGBTQ+ employees. Many leaders tend to mentor those who are "like" them. Branch out. Be a mentor to LGBTQ+ colleagues and foster their professional development.

8. Speak up. If you overhear an unfriendly comment or joke in your workplace, let others know that's not OK.

9. Advocate for change. LGBTQ+ people face social and legal challenges such as lack of employment protections. Know the issues and how you can help create change.

10. Lead with your ally-ness. Storytelling is powerful. Share your story — tell people why you are an ally and why this conversation is important to you.

Take this list and see how you can apply it in and outside of the workplace. You might be surprised by the tremendous impact that can be made with simple gestures.

Happy Pride!


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