Whilst LGBTQ+ rights and equality should be always a consideration for everyone, every June ‘Pride Month’ helps shine a light on the discrimination the LGBTQ+ community face both in society and in the workplace, and this year is no exception.
Diversity, equality, and inclusivity are all hot topics across businesses the world over and while many are getting their approach to creating an environment where their employees feel safe to be their true selves, many are still falling short.
According to a report conducted by BCG, in 2020, 40% of LGBTQ+ employees were not open about their sexual orientation at work and 36% had lied or covered parts of their identities at work in the past year.
Most upsetting of all, three-quarters said they’d experienced at least one negative interaction at work related to their LGBTQ+ identity, with ten types of negative interaction experienced by 41%.
Likewise, when it comes to candidate job searches, a study by McKinsey & Company found that nearly 40% of all survey respondents, both LGBTQ+ and non-LGBTQ, admitted to rejecting a job offer or not pursuing a position because they felt that the hiring company was not inclusive.
“Without buy-in from decision makers, change will not come.”
Add to this the number of employees who had experienced discrimination when it came to equal pay and promotion opportunities, and it’s abundantly clear there’s still a lot for businesses to do to be fully inclusive.
By no means an extensive guide, here are 7 ways to take the initiative to create change and make your workplace more LGBTQ+ inclusive.
1. Be clear on inclusivity & what it means to you
The first way to build a more inclusive and supportive environment is to truly understand what this means and believe in the benefits of creating an inclusive workplace culture.
This must come from the top and filter down through the business at all levels, as without buy-in from decision-makers, positive change simply will not come.
“It’s essential to understand pronoun preferences among your staff.”
2. Use inclusive language
Evaluate the use of language across all forms of communication, your website, social media, and job adverts. Is it neutral or full of gender-coded terms?
Equally, when addressing your team as a group, it’s important to use neutral language and avoid phrases such as “ladies and gentlemen.” It’s essential to understand pronoun preferences among your staff and to ensure these are used correctly across the business.
3. Update policies and benefits
Companies should make it a priority to regularly revisit and update their policies to be more inclusive to their LGBTQ+ employees. These policies need to meet the needs of today’s diverse workforce and should include benefits that ensure their LGBTQ+ employees are fully supported and valued.
For example, you would offer robust support and parental leave to new parents who had given birth, and the same consideration needs to be put in place for those who have adopted a child or otherwise grown their families.
Again, this exercise provides a great opportunity to evaluate and change the use of language in these company documents, and actively communicating any changes to policy and benefits packages is key.
“Listening to your LGBTQ+ employees without dismissing their experiences.”
4. Educate your teams
Better understanding your people, their needs, your shortfalls and finding ways to improve should be a core priority for organisations of any size and across any sector and educating your employees on inclusion should not be a one-time event. Instead, it should be an ongoing process that involves everyone taking the initiative to change.
Through being proactive and consistent, your teams will live the values you’ve set, call out discrimination when they see or experience it, and ultimately create an inclusive workplace where people feel safe to be themselves.
5. Listen & take action
If one of your employees does experience discrimination, whether internally or externally from a client, supplier or someone else involved with the business, then it’s important to take action.
This action can come in many forms, but what’s essential is that your employees feel that their issues are heard, and they are being supported, especially by those in a position of power or a position to affect change.
Make sure you’re really listening to what your LGBTQ+ employees are saying without dismissing their experiences or perspectives simply because they differ from yours. Then do something with that information.
“Make sure your policies prioritise making your LBGT+ employees supported and valued.”
6. Create support networks
The knowledge that you’re not alone and supported is essential, and a great way to build a sense of community across the business is through employee resource groups.
Having a well-run, active network that’s set on building solidarity amongst staff and ensuring your LGBTQ+ employees don’t feel isolated is so important, as is getting buy-in from leaders in your business.
7. Be vigilant & ready to change
Change will not come through short-term investment or simply going through the process once, so there needs to be a real commitment and it needs to be ongoing. Gather as much information as possible on where you are in the process and make improvements along the way.
Businesses need to make sure they’re being honest, open to feedback and recognising when they haven’t got things right.
As previously outlined, this is by no means a conclusive list, but it should hopefully help with things to think about when it comes to creating a more LGBTQ+ inclusive workplace.
Involving your employees in the discussions, creating policies that consider their needs, seeking feedback from them and communicating the changes and reasons for them are all essential for businesses who want to create an environment where their staff feel safe, valued and supported.
So, if you have any suggestions or things your company is doing to make more inclusive spaces for LGBT+ communities we’d love to know. Drop us a quick message sharing your thoughts here
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