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Celebrating Canada's 2SLGBTQI+ Communities

ABOVE: Fierté des neiges in Montreal, February 2023

Celebrating 15 Years Of Leading 2SLGBTQIA+ Workplace Inclusion

It’s another milestone anniversary for Pride at Work Canada, the not-for-profit organization that works tirelessly to promote 2SLGBTQIA+ inclusion in Canadian workplaces…

By Luis Augusto Nobre

When Pride at Work Canada/Fierté au travail Canada was created 15 years ago, the group of people who founded the organization had three words – volunteering, solidarity and community – in mind when they were thinking about how to define the goals to live in “a nation where every individual can achieve their full potential at work regardless of gender expression, gender identity, and sexual orientation.” This statement is our current vision, and while it has been updated over the years as we have grown and experienced some changes and new challenges in our journey, its inspiration still comes from those original three words.

The first word, Volunteering, is the essence of our work and foundation. In April 2008, a group of volunteers with a common purpose came together and created an organization to guide employers in their diversity and inclusion journeys, helping them to develop more inclusive workplaces and society for queer and trans professionals – something similar to employee resources groups and other types of associations where many people volunteer to live and work in better places. They donate time, energy and expertise to impact people’s lives positively.

The word Solidarity emphasizes the connections, empathy and work done by those who have committed to changing the reality for marginalized groups, removing the systemic barriers that have oppressed and pushed them away for decades. This word is the seed for something bigger and collective, where every single social actor makes a difference to protect others and their own rights. It is to give action to the word “Ally,” and to stand for and with those who experience more challenges, building bridges to promote more inclusion and a sense of belonging.

Last but not least, Community is our third word. Everyone looks to be surrounded by others who make them feel part of something bigger, a place and group where they belong because we cannot be alone in creating social impact. Community and commitment walk side by side, and this combination empowers individuals to transform realities. Stronger communities would have more access to a diverse number of resources and adapt their path to a journey towards a better future. 

Pride at Work Canada wouldn’t exist without the queer and trans communities it serves, embracing them and working hard to create this sense of belonging. While its main focus is on 2SLGBTQIA+ workplace inclusion, the organization stands and works in solidarity with many other intersectional aspects of diversity and inclusion, actively engaging and joining forces with other communities and partners to promote human rights. Although there is a business model to secure the continuation of its activities, volunteering and community engagement are the primary keys to guaranteeing its mission and vision among all stakeholders.

ABOVE (top L-R): Halifax ProPride, July 2022; Calgary ProPride, September 2022. / (bottom L-R): Montreal ProPride, August_2022; SPARK in Toronto, February 2023.

Since 2008, our world has witnessed changes impacting people’s lives in different ways. We have seen new legislation protecting 2SLGBTQIA+ people in several countries, ensuring equal rights and legal protection, but we have also witnessed anti-LGBTQIA+ bills increasing the political persecution. In Canada, we have had many advances, including the ban on conversion therapy and on blood donation based on gender identity and sexual orientation, both in 2022. This new reality is a collective effort from many organizations like Pride at Work Canada, which has been advocating to keep 2SLGBTQIA+ inclusion on the agenda of the largest employers in Canada. 

Pride at Work Canada, the leading national organization in workplace inclusion, has improved its approach to addressing more evidence-based 2SLGBTQIA+ best practices in the workplace. With a focus on tangible deliverables and strategies, it operates as a member services agency for employers, offering institutional education and guidance. People and employers who have a solid commitment to their 2SLGBTQIA+ professionals and inclusion see the direct economic benefits of engaging in diversity and inclusion initiatives, and the return on their investments. 

Under Colin Druhan’s leadership since 2014, the organization has grown significantly in the number of partners, revenue and resource capacity. Founded by 12 employers, Pride at Work Canada now has more than 300 Proud Partners and Community Partners, and continues to serve its communities with top-notch content and events to empower people in their workplaces. Leadership programs and initiatives became its expertise to develop future Two-Spirit, trans and queer leaders; this is the main topic of the upcoming event series in 2023–2024 and its new reseach Lead with Pride: Best Practices for Advancing 2SLGBTQIA+ Leadership to celebrate the organization’s 15th anniversary.

One of the most significant barriers to 2SLGBTQIA+ inclusion is people being chosen for leadership positions according to attributes irrelevant to their job, such as gender or racial characteristics. Pride at Work Canada’s educational approach uses content and data from different types of research to show the economic challenges experienced by queer and trans people in their professional lives. To date, several professionals in various fields still face discrimination, biases and stigma based on gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation. Those challenges impact their performances as they overlap with other aspects of their own intersectionalities. 

In the big picture of the reality for 2SLGBTQIA+ people in Canada and their economic challenges, Pride at Work Canada develops meaningful engagement and measurable outcomes for its different stakeholder levels. Its work goes beyond the positive impact of inclusive best practices on business. It is grounded in belonging and collective achievement for 2SLGBTQIA+ inclusion and intersectionality. 

Queer and trans professionals seek employment in companies with genuinely inclusive workplaces. They want to be in spaces where they won’t be afraid to live their authentic selves and to change their own reality, empowering and inspiring other 2SLGBTQIA+ professionals to open up. Actual representativeness in the workplace is more than creating awareness and educating people on diversity, equity and inclusion. It is the key to guaranteeing social justice and removing systemic barriers for others to join.

In its 15th anniversary, Pride at Work Canada renews its commitment to empowering employers to celebrate all employees regardless of gender expression, gender identity or sexual orientation. It also honours the people committed to making the difference in their environments. There are several steps to be taken towards this ideal future. Still, with this common willingness for an inclusive nation, the organization knows that volunteers and communities will stand in solidarity with each other.


LUIS AUGUSTO NOBRE is the senior communications coordinator of Pride at Work Canada/Fierté au travail Canada, a leading national non-profit organization that promotes workplace inclusion on the grounds of gender expression, gender identity and sexual orientation. For more information, visit prideatwork.ca.

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