How to support your LGBTQ2+ colleagues



Every June my partner Ingrid and I put up our Pride flag - because our visibility matters!


As much as I love raising our flag every year, being out in our work as LGBTQ2+ fundraisers and non-profit leaders isn’t as simple as putting a rainbow on it.


While coming out is never easy, as a cisgender white woman, I recognize that I have privilege that protects me in many ways.


I wish I could say things have gotten better since I first started coming out 27 years ago (!!!), but recent research from The Trevor Project shows otherwise…


More than one in three (35%) employed LGBTQ youth experienced workplace discrimination, with significantly greater rates reported by transgender and nonbinary youth.


Transgender men had over 3.5 times greater odds and transgender women had nearly triple the odds of experiencing workplace discrimination compared to cisgender LGBQ men.


The same study found that Indigenous youth had more than double the odds of reporting LGBTQ-based workplace discrimination compared to white LGBTQ youth.


And guess what - the nonprofit sector is not exempt!


The Diversity Among Philanthropic Professionals (DAPP) Survey found that the majority of LGBTQ respondants are “in the closet” at work - a whopping 53.4% have not disclosed their sexual orientation or gender identity to all or most of their co-workers.


At the time I’m writing this, my social feed is awash in brand logos turned rainbow - and maybe this is something your organization is doing too.


But it’s important for us to better understand - are we engaging in rainbow-washing, or are we truly supporting our LGBTQ2+ colleagues and staff by backing up that support with an effective inclusion strategy?


My friend Colin Druhan is the Executive Director of Pride at Work Canada, and he posted some super helpful questions on Linkedin that I’m resharing here with permission (thanks Colin!)


Does your organization:


☑️ Have a harassment and discrimination policy that includes gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation?


☑️ Offer gender affirming care as part of its group benefits?


☑️ Have a strategy to address racism and white supremacy in its engagement with the Pride movement?


☑️ Have a mental health strategy that includes supports relevant to the needs of queer and trans people?


☑️ Have guidelines to support employees who transition on the job? Or (better yet) programs that help trans people succeed throughout their lifecycle as an employee?


☑️ Acknowledge Indigenous History Month, which also takes place in June?


☑️ Have anything to offer queer and trans communities other than its “support”? Something like… you know… jobs?


You can read Colin’s full post here.


If you ask these questions and discover your organization has some work to do, there are great resources out there to support you.


Pride at Work Canada offers a full range of services and programs, including free and affordable webinars and online training in LGBTQ2+ workplace Inclusion.


Out & Equal is a US based organization with worldwide programs supporting LGBTQ+ workplace equality, including executive leadership development and D&I training. https://outandequal.org/


If you’re looking for fundraising specific resources, the Association of Fundraising Professionals recently hosted a fantastic conversation with LGBTQ+ fundraisers Kelsey DeForest, Joshua Tobing, Penelope Poppers and Sunil Oommen where they discussed what it’s like to identify as an LGBTQ+ individual in the fundraising and nonprofit sectors, and how you can support the community all year long.


Do you have any other helpful resources you’ve come across that you’d like to share with other fundraisers and nonprofit leaders? I love to hear about them!





Emma Lewzey, CFRE is an award-winning fundraising expert

with 20+ years experience raising millions of dollars across the arts, education, health and human services sectors. If you want to raise more 5, 6 and even 7-figure donations your non-profit, you can download Emma’s free Blueprint for Major Gift Success, and learn the 4 crucial steps to raising big gifts (at any size shop!)

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