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Supporting LGBTQ+ employees – how can the workplace catch up?

Although it can be argued that society has come a long way since the 60s, if you’re an LGBTQ+ employee, studies show that there’s a good chance you feel a number of concerns of recrimination and stigmatisation in the workplace.

Fear of being treated differently, being passed up for promotion opportunity and pay rises or feeling like your ability do your job effectively are all issues many LGBTQ+ employees are facing in the workplace.

It’s time for the workplace to catch up.

By no means an extensive or definitive list, here are 4 actions employers can take to create equality and promote inclusion for LGBTQ+ employees in their organisation.

Educate yourself and encourage others to do the same

Don’t leave it up to your LGBTQ+ employees to educate you and your team. It’s important for allies to take the initiative and educate themselves on what it means to be a member, and an ally, of the LGBTQ+ community. 

Listen, be supportive and show you care as this will create a workplace culture that feels safes for your LGBTQ+ employees to be open about themselves. 

Use Pride Month in June as a jumping off point, but make sure your commitments to making changes to the workplace and being aware of the impact it has on LGBTQ+ employees doesn’t come to end as soon as the month is over.

Make sure your hiring practices are inclusive

Despite inclusive hiring being a key consideration for businesses globally, having structured processes in place often still escapes them. 

Creating an inclusive workforce is about blending different experiences, values and beliefs together to work towards a common goal. In doing so, you create a melting pot of ideas and cultures, which will drive innovation and improve your bottom line.

Educating your teams on the benefits of inclusive hiring, searching in new, diverse candidate pools and including the team in the hiring process are great ways to ensure the way you recruit appeals to all demographics.

Offer LGBTQ+-friendly benefits

The benefits and perks you offer your employees will be a key consideration for candidates, yet so often, they can unintentionally exclude those in the LGBTQ+ community.

Equal benefits need to be offered to all employees, regardless of their sexual orientation. Likewise, the use of gendered language in your policies and company handbooks can cause benefits to unintentionally exclude LGBTQ+ individuals.

Be aware of the words you’re using and favour gender-neutral terms so as not to discriminate.

Think about how your company looks from the outside in

Authentic representation, that avoids tokenism, is the best way to build a more inclusive workplace. Go beyond simply highlighting your commitment to the LGBTQ+ community during Pride Month and extend that visibility all year round.

It’s important to use language and visuals across your website, social media and any other platforms people engage with you that authentically show your commitment to supporting the LGBTQ+ community and giving it a voice.

Final thoughts

While progress has been made in recent times, LGBTQ+ employees still face a multitude of challenges and stigmas that companies the world over need to address.

Any commitment to supporting your employees needs to be truly genuine if it’s to be effective and companies in support of diversity and inclusion efforts can no longer get by on words alone. 

They need to take clear, actionable steps to ensure their workplace catches up and becomes a safe, supportive place for anyone and everyone to thrive.

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