For Steve Lowden (he/him), Director of Learning and Organization Effectiveness at Baylis, there is a huge difference between authenticity and belonging: “Belonging is active, people responding and asking me about my personal life the same way as people ask others.”
Baylis Medical strives to be a place where all individuals can express their authentic selves and feel comfortable and safe. Part of that means it’s important to appreciate and actively respond to each other’s authentic selves through interaction and acknowledgement. This is the key to making people feel a sense of belonging.
Authenticity takes courage; if not valued and acknowledged, people will go back into their shells and not talk about their whole self, says Steve. As a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community, Steve feels if he isn’t bringing his whole self to work, that means people only interact with some bits of him making building connections seem like a job or a task.
Ultimately, bringing one’s authentic self isn’t enough. There needs to be reciprocal action from others, where your differences are acknowledged and embraced. Below, Steve shares how we can create a sense of belonging to allow the LGBTQ+ community to continuously be their authentic selves.
What should we keep in mind while interacting with members of the LGBTQ+ community?
Steve notes that people are often uncomfortable talking about the LGBTQ+ community as they may feel nervous about using the wrong words and language. His tip? “Just mimic the language! If someone uses ‘partner’ to talk about their significant other, use ‘partner.’ This shows belonging because you’re actively listening and creating a connection with the other person, rather than avoiding the conversation.”
Words and language have power, says Steve. If we use the language of the group we’re talking to, it goes on to show effort, focus, appreciation and respect, and ultimately creates a sense of belonging.
Today, people tend to try to be politically-correct which can often lead to inadvertent microaggressions which are subtle verbal and non-verbal behaviours and interactions directed at a member of a marginalized group, that have a harmful and derogatory effect. Rather than that, Steve says it is important to acknowledge your own “lack of awareness and the need for education,” to demonstrate mutual respect. Part of this means recognizing that it is your own responsibility to become educated, rather than expecting a member of the LGBTQ+ community to do it for you.
What can we do as individuals to become a proactive ally?
Steve believes that we are our own personal educators. The first step starts with educating oneself, be it through reading books or watching movies. Through education, we can learn about other ways of thinking and normalize the experiences and relationships of the LGBTQ+ community. Listening and learning about the community's lived experiences is pertinent to creating fairer workplaces.
What can workplaces do to support the LGBTQ+ community?
It all starts with the culture and the stories we tell. By creating an inclusive culture where LGBTQ+ voices are heard and people take accountability for their own actions, we can create a sense of belonging and organizational courage.
Representation matters in the workplace, says Steve: “After I saw the image of the Pride flag raised outside our office, my tribe and I felt acknowledged. That signals not just acceptance, but a celebration of belonging.”
Baylis’ Inclusion & Diversity Committee (led by Saiyyada Rizvi [she/her], Employee Experience Specialist at Baylis) looks to ensure the organization takes into account how people from different races, cultures, sexual orientation and genders see things. As an active participant of the committee, Steve’s working on creating progressive strategies that build on strengths and emphasizes belonging across the organization.
When it comes to being truly inclusive, everyday interactions with your colleagues matter as much as organizational processes and policies. Through this, we can create a greater sense of belonging that allows LGBTQ+ members to bring their whole, authentic self to work.
PRM-00747 EN J-1,2,3 V-1 © Baylis Medical Company Inc., 2021. The Baylis Medical logo is a trademark or registered trademark of Baylis Medical Company Inc. in the United States and/or other countries. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.