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Building a team culture that supports LGBTIQ members

Arielle Gordis 9 min read
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Workplace trends

Time to nix the team brainstorms

The results are in: brainstorms are usually a waste of time – well, at least according to Sheena Iyengar, a professor at Columbia Business School. After extensive academic research focusing on idea generation and a decade of interviews with more than a thousand people, Iyengar found that between blabbermouths with mediocre suggestions and introverts with brilliant ones that they keep to themselves, brainstorms simply aren’t designed to help teams make big decisions. Of course, collaboration is essential, but the research suggests colleagues should engage in significant independent thinking before comparing notes. Some companies like Google, Shopify, and Wayfair are reevaluating meeting policies to allow workers to spend more time individually developing ideas.

Workplaces are finally starting to discuss the M-word

A new movement to create menopause-friendly workplaces – addressing the years-long stretch that precedes the end of a woman’s reproductive years – is catching on. Beginning in Britain, where menopausal women are believed to be the fastest-growing workforce demographic, more than 50 British organizations, including HSBC UK, Unilever UK, and the West Ham United soccer club, are officially certified “menopause-friendly.” A recent Irwin Mitchell poll estimated that 30% of workplaces in Britain currently have some kind of menopause policy in place, such as training about symptoms, physical accommodations like desk fans and modified uniforms, and more flexible schedules. “The big M,” as Oprah calls it, is starting to enter workplace conversations in the U.S. as well.

The AI corner

AI was blamed for 3,900 workers losing their jobs in May

When will AI start replacing human jobs? Experts are saying it already has. According to data from Challenger, Gray & Christmas, artificial intelligence contributed to nearly 4,000 U.S. job losses last month, as interest in the generative technology’s ability to perform advanced workplace tasks and lighten workloads has intensified. The report shows that roughly 5% of all layoffs by U.S. employers in May were due to AI, making it the seventh-highest contributor to employment losses. All this said, analysts note that as with previous technology that has replaced the work of humans, at the same time, generative AI is already creating new jobs. In fact, between February and April this year, JPMorgan advertised 3,651 global AI-related roles.

Nvidia touched a $1 trillion market cap

Nvidia briefly joined an exclusive club of just six other US companies that have reached a $1 trillion market capitalization, after reporting that the AI boom is translating into record sales. In fact, the company’s last quarterly earnings report noted over $2 billion in profit in just three months. Experts suggest this growth is sending a clear message from investors: AI is the future, and Nvidia, which produces computer chips that train and power most cutting-edge AI programs like ChatGPT, is about to see some skyrocketing growth from the value created.

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Building a team culture that supports LGBTIQ members - pt. 1

With Pride ERG leaders: William Ashton and Gianmarco Petrelli

While the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and gender diverse, intersex, queer, and questioning (LGBTIQ) community is extremely diverse and intersectional in nature, lots of members have a largely shared experience of, at least at times, feeling othered in the workplace. Many feel consistent pressure to monitor the presentation of their gender and sexuality at work, and while some choose to disclose how they identify, others wind up doing so involuntarily.

At work, many LGBTIQ community members find themselves needing to respond to invasive questions, being misgendered, receiving unsolicited remarks about their clothing choices, experiencing painful microaggressions, and at times, being victims of harassment and outright discrimination. The HRC Foundation found that LGBTIQ workers earn about 90 cents for every dollar earned by a typical heterosexual US worker and that this gap is even greater among LGBTIQ people of color, transgender women and men, and non-binary people.

Insufficient support by leadership significantly compounds the effects of these challenges on LGBTIQ workers’ mental health, psychological safety, relationships with colleagues, sense of inclusion and belonging in their teams, and overall engagement. In fact, the Mind Share Partners’ 2021 Mental Health at Work Report revealed that LGBTIQ workers were more likely to experience mental health challenges like anxiety and depression than their heterosexual cisgender counterparts and more than twice as likely to have voluntarily left a previous role at least in part for mental health reasons.

While effectively building an inclusive workplace needs to come from the top, as a manager, there are many actions you can take to create psychological safety and a welcoming environment for LGBTIQ community members as well as other minority groups.

We sat down with William Ashton and Gianmarco Petrelli, leaders of’s Pride Employee Resource Group (ERG) to get their insights and advice for leaders on how to build a more inclusive team.

Here’s part one of their suggestions:

Stay informed

Do your best to read and learn about what’s going on in the LGBTIQ community at large.

  • 67 countries still criminalize private and consensual same-sex sexual activity today, and in eight of these countries, the penalty for such acts can be as severe as death.
  • Uganda has passed one of the world’s toughest anti-gay laws, calling for life imprisonment for anyone convicted of homosexuality.
  • In 2023 alone, over 400 anti-LGBTIQ bills have been brought forward in state legislatures across the United States, nearly half of which target transgender and non-binary communities specifically.
  • Any promotion of homosexuality in Russia, including in books, films, and online, is illegal and carries heavy penalties.

It’s so important to stay up-to-date on what’s happening so that you can understand how to support your team members and be an effective ally. When you know about an attack on the community or a new piece of legislation that would affect LGBTIQ members on your team or at your company, check in and make space for them to share how they’re feeling. These types of updates may influence their sense of safety and belonging in general, so do your best to validate the emotional burdens they carry and remember that you don’t have to personally relate to an experience to understand the feelings that may come with it.

Make space for honest conversations

Both William and Gianmarco mentioned having, at some point, felt the need to censor themselves at work in order to ensure their team members wouldn’t feel uncomfortable. This feeling can be super alienating and painful, which is why, as a leader, it’s so important that you convey your commitment to creating a culture in which everyone on your team feels like they can be themselves. Try asking your team members individually if they feel comfortable being themselves at work and if there is anything you can do to make the environment more welcoming. This can open the door for LGBTIQ members as well as members of other minority groups to be honest with you about their needs and help you identify actions to take in order to promote a greater sense of belonging on your team.

Be intentional with language

Remember to be thoughtful with your words and phrasing. This can mean asking your team members to state their preferred pronouns at the first team meeting and encouraging them to add those pronouns to their online profiles to avoid putting that responsibility solely on those who may need to “out” themselves. It also means making small linguistic adjustments in your general communications like replacing “ladies and gentlemen” with “hey everyone.”

Let the employee lead

Allow your team members to guide more sensitive conversations. When something personal or complicated comes up, saying things like “If you’re comfortable discussing this” or “Would you like to talk about it” makes it clear that your goal is for them to feel they have the space to talk about whatever they want without putting any pressure on them to share. Similarly, when it comes to Pride initiatives at work, give members of the community the opportunity to lead if they want to. Offering them the chance, without putting pressure, to choose and direct the conversation as well as to decide what kinds of issues are addressed is the best way to ensure their voices are really heard.

Recognize that trying goes a long way

Be aware of stereotypes and do your best to avoid making assumptions about your team members solely based on limited information and identifiers. Remember that no single person represents their whole community and that one person’s experience can be really different from someone else’s. Both William and Gianmarco emphasized that when you don’t know or don’t understand, it’s best to just ask questions to clarify and learn. You’re not expected to get it right all the time, but showing your team members that you’re trying to understand really makes a difference.

Stay tuned for more tips from William and Gianmarco next week!

Water cooler chatter

Twitter is now worth just a third of what Elon Musk paid for it, according to Fidelity, an asset manager. Fidelity’s adjusted value puts Twitter’s overall valuation at about $15 billion, which is a steep fall from Musk’s $44 billion purchase.

“I see a clear, but difficult, path to a >$250B valuation.”
Elon Musk, Owner of Twitter

Louisiana State University football players’ helmets get built-in AC. The LSU Tigers play in one of college football’s hottest environments, so to combat the harsh weather conditions, LSU players will wear air-conditioned helmets for all practices and games this year.

“That feels good, bro. If I’m running in this, I ain’t sweating at all.”
Mac Markway, LSU Tight End

Question of the week

Last week’s answer: 1940

This week’s question: What’s the top-paying AI-related job?

Just for laughs

Building a team culture that supports LGBTIQ members
Arielle is a writer and storyteller currently serving as a content marketing manager at When she’s not busy writing, you can find her walking outside for hours on end or planning her next travel adventure.

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