Guiding Pride: the transformative power of LGBTQ+ mentorship

Jun 01, 2023

5 mins

Guiding Pride: the transformative power of LGBTQ+ mentorship
Emma Albright

Freelance journalist

While the celebration of diversity and inclusivity stands at the forefront of our collective consciousness, the pursuit of a workspace where everyone feels seen, heard, and valued remains an ongoing mission. Although the LGBTQ+ community has courageously pushed the boundaries, advocating for equal rights and representation, the path to complete acceptance continues to unfold.

Navigating professional landscapes as an LGBTQ+ individual often comes with its unique set of complexities. From facing discrimination to dealing with microaggressions tied to the disregard of pronouns or personal identity, the job hunt can sometimes feel like a daunting journey. In these turbulent waters, mentorship shines as a guiding light, serving as a crucial tool in empowering job seekers and supporting their authentic selves.

In honor of Pride Month and with the help of trailblazing LGBTQ+ professionals, we’re diving into an exploration of how mentorship has bolstered their careers and paved the way for professional triumph. Drawing from their personal experiences, we aim to highlight the transformative power of mentorship and its crucial role in inspiring and guiding the next generation of LGBTQ+ talent. Let’s delve into these inspiring narratives, showcasing the undeniable impact of mentorship in crafting successful career paths.

Finding the right mentor

One of the greatest advantages of mentorship is the opportunity to build a professional network. Mentors can introduce mentees to other individuals within their industries, expanding their circle of contacts and creating pathways to career opportunities. Networking events, conferences, and LGBTQ+ groups are impactful platforms for making connections and finding mentorship.

For David Rosenstein, a sales and branding specialist working at LinkedIn, finding the right mentor can sometimes be tricky. The most important thing to ask yourself when talking to someone is, “Does the advice feel authentic? Does this feel realistic and attainable for me?”

Everyone functions and works differently but getting the advice that feels right to you is what matters the most. This will allow you to pursue the career you desire while feeling supported and understood.

Virtual mentoring for LGBTQ+ job hunters

Since the pandemic, when everything moved online, virtual mentoring has risen as an invaluable tool for job seekers everywhere, including within the LGBTQ+ community. While face-to-face mentorship has its advantages, the convenience and accessibility of virtual mentoring should not be underestimated.

Virtual mentoring eliminates geographical boundaries and opens a gateway to international mentorship opportunities. This means that an LGBTQ+ professional seeking advice in London can connect with a seasoned expert in Chicago, crossing borders to tap into global perspectives and strategies.

Platforms like LinkedIn and Queer Tech, an online community for LGBTQ+ professionals in tech industries, are particularly useful for connecting job seekers with potential mentors. But how can one ensure that a virtual mentoring relationship is effective? First, set clear norms for communication, respecting different time zones and personal schedules. Next, make good use of technology’s capabilities—video calls, screen sharing, collaborative online documents—to maintain a personal touch and foster strong connections.

Building a strong relationship with your mentor

Building a strong relationship with your mentor involves open communication, mutual respect, and clear goals. Setting expectations at the beginning can lay a strong foundation for effective mentorship. According to a study by Olivet Nazarene University, around 76% of professionals believe mentors are important, yet only 37% have one, indicating a disconnect likely due to unclear expectations and communication.

Mentorship should be a safe space, particularly for LGBTQ+ professionals who may face unique challenges in the workplace. For these individuals, trust is paramount. Mutual respect between mentor and mentee fosters a relationship in which concerns can be voiced, questions can be raised, and advice can be sought without fear of judgment.

Next, consider your goals. Establishing specific objectives not only provides direction but also helps track progress and celebrate milestones. Finally, the power of feedback cannot be overstated. Constructive criticism is a growth catalyst, and in a mentor-mentee relationship, it’s crucial for such feedback to be delivered empathetically. Mentees are encouraged to regularly seek feedback, while mentors should strive to provide it in a supportive, constructive manner.

Mentorship, both virtual and face-to-face, offers invaluable opportunities for professional growth. For the LGBTQ+ community, a strong mentorship relationship can serve as a beacon, guiding individuals toward successful and fulfilling careers.

How much of myself should I reveal when going into a job interview?

Finding a manager that cares about diversity will allow you to feel most at ease in the workplace. Rosenstein believes coming out during an interview can sometimes have an impact on your candidacy. But there are ways to navigate around that and still get a feel of what kind of company you’re getting involved with.

And of course, it all depends on your level of comfort. If you don’t want to reveal too much, you can simply speak of what you are involved in outside of work and causes that are important to you. If you’re comfortable being more open, there are a few ways you can do so. Rosenstein suggests adding pronouns to your resume and telling a story during the interview can help you know more about the kind of environment the company fosters.

B. Pagels-Minor, working in leadership development, believes revealing who you are can sometimes be a double-edged sword. It all depends on how far along enough you are in your career to make a decision. Is it more important to fully be able to be yourself? Or is it more important to reach financial stability?

Advice to LGBTQ+ job seekers

Venturing into a job interview can stir up a mix of emotions, and as an LGBTQ+ job seeker, these feelings can be heightened due to potential fears and concerns about acceptance and inclusivity. Before you step into an interview, there are strategies you can adopt to feel more comfortable and prepared. Rosenstein emphasizes three critical tips:

1. Find people that have a similar experience to you

Networking is a vital tool for any job seeker, but it’s especially crucial for those in the LGBTQ+ community. Connecting with individuals who have shared experiences can provide insight into navigating the workplace while also being a source of encouragement and understanding. This might include reaching out to LGBTQ+ professionals in your desired industry through social platforms, attending LGBTQ+ networking events, or seeking advice from diversity and inclusion officers in potential workplaces. Having a support system of people who understand your experience can be empowering and insightful as you navigate your job hunt.

2. Look for a community and other LGBTQ+ resource groups for support

There’s strength in numbers, and this certainly rings true within the LGBTQ+ community. Joining LGBTQ+ support groups, both online and offline, can provide a sense of belonging and foster resilience during the job search process. Many cities have LGBTQ+ community centers, and numerous organizations offer online forums and resources specifically tailored to LGBTQ+ job seekers. National groups like the Human Rights Campaign and the National LGBTQ Task Force offer a wealth of resources, and job search platforms like Out & Equal specialize in connecting LGBTQ+ job seekers with inclusive employers.

3. Identify your priorities when looking for a job

Knowing what you value in a job is vital to your career satisfaction and success. As an LGBTQ+ job seeker, you might prioritize workplaces that have strong diversity and inclusion policies, offer same-sex partner benefits, or actively support LGBTQ+ causes. Identifying these priorities before your job search can help you target companies aligned with your values, contributing to a healthier and more satisfying work environment. Tools like the Corporate Equality Index can also aid in identifying businesses that are truly committed to LGBTQ+ inclusivity.

The key to building a career

Mentorship also goes beyond just career advice as it helps foster personal growth and self-confidence. LGBTQ+ mentors empower job hunters by providing guidance on resume building, interview skills, and professional development. They can also help job seekers navigate workplace dynamics, negotiate job offers, and strategize for long-term success.

Whether you choose to turn towards mentorship or not, feeling comfortable in the company you will work for is the first step towards a fulfilling professional journey and building a career.

Photo: Welcome to the Jungle

Follow Welcome to the Jungle on FacebookLinkedIn, and Instagram, and subscribe to our newsletter to get our latest articles every day!

Topics discussed