June is Pride Month and this year, the festivities take on extra meaning for the LGBTQ+ community in both New York City and across the world. It is 50 years since the notorious Stonewall riots in New York City and this year’s Pride festivities in the city will commence on the anniversary date – 28 June.
Early in the morning of 28 Jun 1969, the NYPD raided The Stonewall Inn, a bar frequented by LGBTQ people on Christopher Street in Manhattan. Raids like this were a regular occurrence with arrests and beatings taking place weekly amid a legal and cultural environment that saw members of the LGBTQ community as undeserving of happiness, freedom, and even life. The community had previously accepted raids and beatings as part of LGBTQ life, but on that morning things changed… members of the community, led largely by transgender women of colour, fought back against the police and started a global movement that continues to this day.
Many things have changed over the last fifty years, society has become tolerant in ways that those original Stonewall resistance members could barely have dreamed of; equal marriage, pride parades down Fifth Avenue, even a presidential primary candidate who is openly gay. But there are still huge challenges facing the LGBTQ+ community. On 20 May 2019, Muhlaysia Booker was murdered in Dallas. A trans woman of colour, Muhlaysia had previously been beaten in front of a jeering crowd only a month before; the attack was filmed on a mobile phone while a crowd of over a dozen people chanted transphobic slurs. Muhlaysia was the fifth trans woman to be murdered in 2019. Across America and around the world, daily incidents provide a simple response to the question: “Why do we still need Pride?”
In 28 US States, LGBTQ people are not protected from employment discrimination under the law. In those states, an employer can legally fire an employee due to anti-LGBTQ bias with no recourse under the law. Indeed, some states are in the process of introducing ‘freedom laws,’ which explicitly allow employers to discriminate against LGBTQ employees under the guise of religious freedom.
So why does Pride matter to NCC Group?
Studies and empirical evidence from institutions and businesses across the world find unanimously that workers are at their most productive when they are free to express themselves. Sexuality and gender are integral aspects of identity, and creating a workplace in which people are comfortable in their own expression is proven to increase morale and productivity. Open and welcoming environments attract talent from a broader pool of potential talent than those in which people from diverse groups would worry about their job or personal security.