It’s June. That means companies around the world, (in selective countries at least) are celebrating Pride. They’re showing their support for the LGBTQIA+ community by advertising with the rainbow flag, which has become a universally recognized symbol.
For some companies, the use of the rainbow flag is paying lip service to garner some goodwill. It’s an easy way for them to show support to a social cause without actually having to do much besides firing off a few social media posts and putting the rainbow flag over their logo for a month. Whether they are an inclusive company or not fades into the background.
For others, it’s worse. According to research done by Popular Information, 25 corporations “celebrating” pride have donated millions of dollars to anti LGBTQ+ causes despite advertising themselves as being supportive. It’s this type of duplicitous behavior that undermines real support for pride and demonstrates that pride is simply a marketing ploy.
Businesses that are truly supportive of pride and have an inclusive work environment let their actions speak louder than words. Or flags. Enter Oneflow.
Oneflow doesn’t talk about it, they are about it
According to a BCG report, a substantial number of LGBTQ+ people in the Nordics are still not comfortable being open about how they identify at work. Every person, regardless of who they are, undergoes their own journey of self-discovery. No one should be pressured to have their identity made public if they don’t want it to be known. Yet, workplaces have an onus to ensure employees can feel comfortable being themselves in the place where they spend a majority of their time, the office.
Oneflow has created a genuinely inclusive workplace. As an example, two members of the senior management team are openly gay or queer. Yes, two. It wasn’t done as a token show of appreciation nor to hit a diversity quota either. It was natural. Just a matter of competent professionals being hired to do what they’re good at.
“It was never about hitting a quota for us. Since our company is diverse with people from different nationalities, sexualities, religions, etc. It was just a natural phenomenon. It happens when you hire and promote people based on what they do, not who they are,” said Aksel Hagelid, Chief Sales Officer at Oneflow.
Still, it’s novel, and the two leaders hope it’s not that rare and want to inspire others to be themselves at work.
Emilia Wikstedt, Head of Partnerships at Oneflow said: “I hope it’s not as rare as we think it is. I hope there are more queer people in management-level positions and they just don’t feel comfortable being out yet.” She went on to say, “Both Aksel and I feel the need to be out and proud to give strength to the rest of the company, people who are joining our company or want to, to let them know this is a safe space where people can be themselves.”
Support pride. Not with a rainbow logo, but by living it
Both Emilia and Aksel believe that companies have a big role to play in building inclusive environments for their employees. This includes supporting pride as well as other social causes. However, it’s not just a one-month thing.
“It’s more important what we do for the eleven other months of the year than during pride month. The awareness and support shown during the month for LGBT+ employees is great,” said Aksel. “But for the rest of the year, hire us, promote us. Don’t let it be an issue. It’s more important in how we act in everyday life. Support pride, not with a rainbow logo but by living it.”
It’s easy to feign pride support for a month with a rainbow vignette on your logo. It’s harder to create an environment where employees can feel comfortable being themselves year-round. It comes down to values and living them on a day-to-day basis.
“Our values came from the ground up”
Every company has core values. Sometimes, they get so abstract to the point that they lose any real meaning. Now sure, Oneflow’s values: Show love, In it together, and Beat yesterday, sound similar.
What’s different is that Oneflow established these from day one and worked on cultivating the culture with them. It’s a conscious effort at the company to live these out daily.
“These values came from the ground up. It wasn’t something the management team decided in a top-down style. They’re organic and have grown as we’ve grown as a company,” said Emilia. “It’s been a learning process. We challenge ourselves every day to be better and get rid of assumptions. We’re transparent in our feedback so that if we see something that’s a bit iffy, we’re able to speak up about it.”
Since the values were focused on inclusion from the start, it’s something that has progressed naturally. Bringing people on board from a variety of backgrounds and experiences that can bring something to the table has been a focus as well. Every hire positively contributes to cultural growth.
Ensuring that people live up to the values on a daily basis becomes easier when that’s taken into account.
“It started way back when the founders began hiring new employees. It’s up to the people at the company to set the tone,” said Aksel. “Anders (Oneflow’s CEO) has been hiring people with good values, who hire more of the same. Instead of only focusing on a candidate’s cultural fit, we look for cultural contribution.”
Let your employees be themselves so they can be at their best, personally and professionally
To perform at your best, you have to feel your best. It’s not a secret. A BCG study from 2018 found that LGBT+ employees who experience negative touchpoints at work were 40% less productive and 13x more likely to quit.
Oneflow is well aware of that.
“We want to create a company that people want to work at and perform well. If you can’t be your true self at work, because you have to spend energy pretending to be something you’re not, your work will suffer. If we show people trust, give them freedom and support them, they can perform better,” said Aksel.
This is a shared sentiment.
“We spend lots of time at work, and if I can’t feel comfortable at work where I spend so much of my life, then it’s a problem,” says Emilia. “If you can’t be your true self, it’s going to show in your performance.”
Oneflow is a company that helps others work more efficiently, making life easier as they eventually find their flow. It does the same for its employees.