Over the last few years, many companies have made huge efforts in supporting LGBTQ+ employees in the workplace, helping to create a more inclusive and safe working environment.
And when a workplace is more inclusive, it helps employees feel respected and valued, which can give them the drive to contribute to their fullest. Studies have shown that when employees feel happy and settled at work, they’re more productive, giving the company better results overall. So, having inclusion strategies in place for LGBTQ+ employees makes sense from both a business and ethical standpoint.
If employers are looking to make their organisation more inclusive, and support their LGBTQ+ employees, then these tips could help.
One of the first things employers can do is set up an inclusive LGBTQ+ company policy that outlines their position on LGBTQ+ rights. Just as employers have policies in place for racism, sexism, or sexual harassment (among others) an LGBTQ+ policy should be a non-discrimination policy, so employees are protected against challenges they might face based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Having these policies in place sets the guidelines on how to be more inclusive and avoid discrimination and should include items such as parental leave, adoption, and pensions.
This policy should be clearly outlined in the employee handbook, and on your website so it’s clear to current and potential employees where you stand.
Educating staff about LGBTQ+ issues can help ensure the employer’s policies are not only heard but understood across the business. This should be done as part of equality and diversity training and can include policies such as the kind of language and actions that support LGBTQ+ employees.
It’s a good idea for employers to review their training protocols to ensure they adequately address the extended protections, as well as include best practices for implementing and maintaining a diverse workforce with a supportive culture of acceptance and inclusion.
Employers could also look into hiring a consultant who identifies as gay or trans to look over training materials to ensure the company is promoting the right messages.
Employers should undertake a comprehensive review of their job application process and hiring practices, evaluating the current language used in job descriptions or applications to ensure LGBTQ+ applicants aren’t excluded.
This should include, for example, using more inclusive language and checking how their existing collateral is worded. Simple things such as only having a male and female tick box on a hiring form can be made more inclusive by adding other options and/or using gender neutral language.
When addressing employees, instead of using phrases such as “ladies and gentlemen,” employers should say “valued employees” or “team” or something similar. In an LGBTQ+ inclusive workplace, identities and pronouns should be respected. Pronoun preferences can be included in email signatures to ensure employees feel included and free to be addressed as they identify.
Companies that celebrate diversity among employees must consider diversity of sexual orientation and gender identity too.
As well as updated policies, employers could consider implementing diversity or pride days dedicated to celebrating employee differences. This is a great way to show LGBTQ+ employees that they are included and supported.
An LGBTQ+ network group acts as an internal forum for employees at all levels and they can play a crucial role in advancing equality and inclusivity. As well as giving LGBTQ+ employees a dedicated space.
The network should be led by LGBTQ+ employees and provide a professional place for members of the community to meet at work. The network can offer confidential support for any issues the staff member might not feel comfortable talking about with their manager. A network group can also help raise awareness of LGBTQ+ issues, helping to create an environment where everyone feels confident to be themselves.
These networks can also be beneficial when it comes to implementing policies, as they can help scrutinise existing policies and practices, helping to increase the visibility of LGBTQ+ people at work.
Employers can also set up an ally network, which can include training on unconscious bias, inclusive language, and what it means to be an ally.
Although this is not a conclusive list, by implementing these policies, it’s a start to creating a more inclusive LGBTQ+ workplace. To maintain the inclusive status, employers should consistently communicate the policies (instead of just once) as well as seeking feedback from LGBTQ+ employees.