How to be a good Sponsor and Champion to LGBT people in their careers

LGBT flag featuredBy Nicki Gilmour, Executive Coach and Organizational Pyschologist

Following on from last week’s career advice and staying with the LGBTA theme for the month since June is Pride month, today I am going to talk about how to be an Ally, Champion and Sponsor to your LGBT colleagues and co-workers. I come across many people who want to be an inclusive leader and ensure that their team members get to focus on work and not on fitting it or assimilating instead. However, many leaders and managers with the best of intentions still do not have many LGBT mentees or sponsees. Tips to ensure your portfolio of people that you mentor is diverse can include:

Do not be afraid of offering up supportive statements to indicate you are an Ally. Gay team members often do not know where you stand on the topic as a concept because sadly the topic is still at ‘concept’ level ( there are still millions of overtly homophobic people out there some more covert than others, how do we know that you are an ally if you don’t tell us!)
Don’t presume you know them just because you know one other gay person (or even several) because like racial bias, you are stereotyping whether you realize it or not.
Respect their individual personality on how much they want to talk about their spouse and family just as you would any other coworker, not everyone wants to share regardless of their identity. Equally, ask them the questions you ask your other team members ( like: hey how was your weekend, how are the kids etc?)
Coach other less exposed/less evolved executives on your team and know you are a culture carrier.

Know that you have the ability to advance people individually but also change the system so that future generations can truly come to work and not have to come out everyday and fear mixed reactions.

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