In celebration of Pride month this June, Taboola Pride hosted an internal online event with nearly 200 employee attendees from across the world who came together to celebrate our vibrant LGBTQIA+ community. The event was designed to inspire people, break down unconscious bias, and promote inclusion in the workplace.

According to the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, nearly half of LGBTQ Americans remain closeted in the workplace. When asked why, 38% said they were afraid of being stereotyped, and 31% said they were worried about losing relationships with coworkers.

Taboola is committed to creating a safe and inclusive space for everyone to bring their whole selves to work — whether remotely or in the office. We launched new Pride-themed Zoom backgrounds for the month of June and opened access to a #TaboolaPride Slack channel. We even created a crowd-sourced Pride Playlist on Spotify to help foster community and inclusivity. Take a listen!

“When you bring your whole self to work, you are at your best,” said speaker Hadas Almog, Business Consultant for Diversity & Inclusion. “You perform better, you’re more focused, and people say they feel safer. It creates deeper, more authentic, and stronger connections between people. I see it daily.”

During the online event, Taboola team members from Israel, Spain, Brazil, the U.S., and the U.K. openly shared their stories and offered helpful advice for allies in the workplace.

Amanda Sandoval, SMB Media Account Manager in Sao Paolo, wasn’t sure how to come out in the workplace when she first started an internship at 19. “My first choice was to hide,” she said. “No one told me that it was a safe place. No one told me, ‘Hey, there is a community here. You can talk to people. You can be yourself.’

“By the time she’d joined Taboola, she’d been out in the workplace, but she still had to come out again, as many LGBTQIA+ people do at different points throughout their lives. “My boss’ reaction was, ‘Okay, nice. What are we going to do tomorrow?'” said Sandoval. “That was so, so big for me. So important. And my boss probably doesn’t even know that. But it’s not normal to have that reaction from people, especially at work.”

To further help, one attendee asked how they could be a better ally in the workplace.

“Being an ally in a conscious way means that you have been able to understand things that other people don’t,” said Yannis Tziotas, Senior Publisher Account Manager in Madrid. “So maybe you can also pass the torch and show people what you are doing and how you are doing it, so people can learn how to help us and be all together in it.”

Even just listening and being empathetic to other people’s experiences can go a long way.

“I think it’s important for people who are not from the community and may have never been exposed to someone from the community,” said Ayelet Cohen, CRM Manager in Tel Aviv. “In many cases, they learn that we have a lot in common and it allows them to relate and to better understand our challenges and aspirations for equal rights.”

Almog also shared concrete steps allies can take to promote inclusivity, like asking co-workers’ preferred pronouns and responding to micro-aggressions. If you hear something offensive, for example, instead of brushing it off, you can say, “I know you were just trying to be funny, but I found that joke offensive because…”

Still, London-based Ingo Duckerschein, Managing Director of Central & Eastern Europe, asks allies not to discount small acts of kindness.

“Micro acts of kindness are more powerful than micro-aggressions,” he said. “They’re huge.”

As Almog noted, HR policies and government programs are important and absolutely necessary. But, when it comes down to it, inclusivity is fostered through human relationships.

“What really makes an inclusive culture is the day-to-day, the people,” she said. “It’s you, me, it’s us, the little things.”

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