With June being Pride month, a month dedicated to the LGBTQ+ community all around the world, it is a great time for employers to review how they currently support their LGBTQ+ employees. This year Pride celebrates 50 years, and is about celebrating acceptance and equality, so how can we, as HR professionals and Senior Leaders within a business, better support LGBTQ+ existing and future employees? And how can we provide this support, not just this month but by embedding a culture of inclusion across the whole organisation?
Over the last few years, employers have made huge strides in supporting people of all genders and sexualities in the workplace by creating more inclusive environments, but there is still a long way to go in ensuring that all people are protected and respected while they are at work. It is true that we are happier when we are able to be our ‘true selves’, both at work and in our personal lives. Happier employees result in better productivity, staff retention, engagement and motivation, amongst many other positive benefits.
An inclusive culture is one that celebrates our differences, uses those differences to benefit the organisation and creates an environment where those from different backgrounds feel safe and supported, psychologically, physically and emotionally. According to Glassdoor, companies that foster inclusivity of LGBTQ+ employees in the workplace outperform their competitors, as diversity helps to draw top talent and foster innovation.
So why wouldn’t we want to better support our LGBTQ+ employees?? We can see no reason! So, how can we start taking steps to achieve truly inclusive employer status?
- Review your policies to ensure that they are inclusive and reflect the company’s values in regard to LGBTQ+ employees and diversity within the workplace. This will help to avoid discrimination. Inclusion should be at the core of your Equal Opportunities policy and having a separate LGBTQ+ policy makes it even clearer to employees that the company is committed to promoting an inclusive workplace.
- Advertise the company’s benefits that are available for same sex partners, such as Family Leave and Health and Dental plans. Review any existing employee benefits that may discriminate and find ways of making them inclusive.
- Consider incorporating gender neutral language into your policies and contracts. This can be done by removing she/he or him/her pronouns and instead using ‘they’ or ‘them’. This will help to ensure that non-binary employees feel included at work.
- Ensure that your recruitment strategy promotes diversity and inclusion, not just for potential LGBTQ+ employees but to remove unconscious bias completely. Removing candidates names from an application before it is passed to the recruiting manager is a great way to ensure unconscious bias is removed from the recruitment process, as well as removing any pronouns that may be included in the application. Consider using gender neutral language in any job advertisements as this will show potential employees that the company promotes inclusion.
- Provide Equality and Diversity training for all employees as this is a fantastic way to educate and can help to promote your policies and ensure that everyone understands the company’s commitment to stand firmly against any forms of discrimination in the workplace.
- Encourage employees to share their pronouns in communication, both verbal and written such as email signatures. This has become common practice across many organisations.
- Ensure that employees know how to report any bullying or harassment at work. This can be done by sending out email communications, putting posters on notice boards and training managers to handle such reports by creating trust and treating employees with respect.
These are just some of the suggestions that we have for HR and Leaders of companies and is by no means exhaustive. By implementing some of these suggestions you are already taking steps to become an inclusive employer and this will go along way to attracting and retaining top talent.
If you want to take things further, Stonewall have a range of resources available on their website, including an assessment against the UK Workplace Equality Index – the definitive benchmarking tool for employers to measure their progress on LGBTQ inclusion in the workplace.
Together, let’s celebrate our differences and ensure that all people are treated with dignity and respect.