Corporate America has played its part in the progress of LGBTQ rights as several companies are now making public gestures to become more inclusive. Two hundred and six major corporations signed the Amicus Brief advocating the decision of the supreme court in June 2020 to protect LGBTQ employees from workplace discrimination.
In the present workplace scenario, ensuring that your DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) efforts also support the LGBTQ community is not just the right thing to do, it is essential for business success. Unfortunately, having a diverse culture itself does not create inclusivity. An inclusive environment has to be intentionally designed, nurtured, and supported.
Creating an LGBTQ+ inclusive workplace extends beyond ensuring that employees of all gender expressions feel safe. Let this guide serve as a benchmark for creating an inclusive environment for LGBTQ staff.
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Prevalent LGBTQ Workplace Discrimination and Harassment
2021 survey data on 5-year experiences of discrimination among LGBT employees reported the following findings on LGBTQ discrimination and harassment:
- 1 in 10 LGBT workers has experienced discrimination at work in the last year.
- LGBTQ+ staff of color has been denied jobs and encountered verbal harassment.
- LGBT employees reported engaging in covering behavior to avoid discrimination and harassment in workplaces.
The findings of the survey indicate that discrimination against the LGBTQ community in workplaces continues to be persistent and widespread. From unfair treatment at work to being harassed, fired, and denied job applications because of gender identity or sexual orientation, these workers have all faced discrimination at some point in their lives.
Beyond these biases, some respondents also reported other types of unfair treatment based on their sexual orientation, including but not limited to, restriction of raises, denial of promotion, unequal treatment, having their schedules changed or reduced, and exclusion from important business events.
How to Create an Inclusive Workplace for LGBTQ Employees
Transphobia and homophobia continue to exist in workplaces despite great progress and these tendencies remain underrepresented in the DEI conversations. As an employer, here is what you can do to foster an LGBTQ culture and work environment:
Create Policies for LGBTQ Inclusion
Start by designing LGBTQ+ policies if they don’t already exist. LGBTQ+ inclusion should be a major component of your equality and diversity policy in order to establish inclusivity and prevent discrimination. Having a separate policy for LGBTQ+ inclusion would also demonstrate your commitment to combating discrimination.
Additionally, ensure that all of the company policies, including those pertaining to parental leave, adoption, and pensions, are LGBTQ+ inclusive.
Encourage the Use of Personal Pronouns for Building an LGBTQ Culture
The next major step toward fostering LGBTQ inclusivity is to encourage the use of pronouns. Many individuals prefer using personal pronouns in their email signatures and other written materials. Besides giving them the liberty to use the pronouns, make sure all gender-biased pronouns are removed from the employee handbook and other company materials.
Among the LGBTQ community, transgender and gender-fluid individuals have to face a lot of confusion, misunderstanding, and bias. The best approach is to let them state their pronouns to avoid others from assuming their gender. When all employees get into the habit of stating their pronouns, the trans and non-binary staff will become more comfortable expressing theirs.
Use Gender Neutral Language
Gender-neutral language can prevent bias against one gender in particular. It ensures everyone feels welcomed regardless of their identity.
This can be achieved by replacing “he/she” with “they” in contracts, business documents, and job descriptions, and by keeping an eye on current communications for gender neutrality. Remember: even if you know everyone’s identities, using gender-neutral language can help push others to do the same and contribute to creating a more inclusive environment.
Offer LGBTQ+ Inclusion Training
Every organization must invest in training its employees to identify and eliminate workplace prejudice. Upgrading the organization’s presentations to include LGBTQ people is a crucial step towards ensuring that. This is only possible through training on LGBTQ inclusion.
The topics that can be covered in the training include gender-neutral language, LGBTQ+ terminology, understanding the implicit bias and how to address it, demonstratable inclusive conduct, a guide to being an LGBTQ ally, and how to report discrimination, harassment, and bullying. This training should not be a one-time event. It must be mandatory for all new hires and conducted annually.
While ensuring an LGBTQ-inclusive workplace, make the recruitment process inclusive too. The best talent acquisition strategies are those which show potential candidates that you are truly diverse during their first encounter with your organization.
Here are some ways to make the recruitment process LGBTQ+ friendly:
- Advertise benefits such as family leave, health coverage, etc. for same-sex partners
- Sponsor and advertise pride events
- Use LGBTQ-friendly resources to recruit individuals from all gender orientations and identities
- Share stories from LGBTQ ambassadors and allies on your website and social media pages
If you partner with a Pittsburgh staffing agency to hire top talent, make sure they understand your company’s drive to support LGBTQ recruitment.
Look for Signs of Discrimination to Support All LGBTQ Backgrounds
Showing commitment to respecting the choices and identities of a diverse workforce is not enough. It is important to look for signs of discrimination and ensure it doesn’t go unnoticed. If problems like these aren’t addressed at the outset, they become challenging to manage and can contribute to employee stress, and in the worst cases can force the employee to leave your organization.
Diversity and inclusion go beyond policies, programs, and headcounts. Strive to be an organization that recognizes and respects the unique needs, perspectives, and potential of not just its LGBTQ employees but all the employees.
Therefore, as you work with mortgage recruiters, do let them know about your LGBTQ policies to help them source the right talent, the right way.
How to support LGBTQ employees?
Become an organization that is an active and vocal LGBTQ ally. Use inclusive hiring practices. Create a supportive and inclusive culture. Update company policies and add inclusive benefits. Offer training on inclusivity.
Are LGBTQ employees safe from discrimination?
Some workplaces remain to be unequal for LGBTQ employees. However, with an active approach, employers can make the workplace safer and more inclusive for LGBT workers.
Do LGBT workplace diversity policies create value for firms?
Firms with LGBT workplace diversity policies are more innovative and perform better than those without.