According to Stonewall, 35% of employees last year hid that they were LGBTQ+ at work for fear of discrimination. It’s shocking but sadly unsurprising; Aimee Stephens, a funeral director who lost her job after telling her boss she was transgender, is just one example of such discrimination.
There’s countless reasons why employers should prioritise creating a LBGTQ+ friendly workplace. 11% more people in the UK’s LGBTQ+ community have experienced a mental health issue in the workplace than non-LGBTQ+ workers; companies which embrace LGBTQ+ policies outperform their competitors; and, quite simply, feeling able to be yourself at work is a moral human right.
Here’s seven steps to creating a LGBTQ+ friendly workplace.
- Review your policies
It’s a given that your company should state a zero tolerance approach to discrimination, but have you considered the other, more nuanced implications of your policies?
Many workplace policies may unintentionally exclude members of the LGBTQ+ community. Consider, for example, your parental leave policy. Could it work fairly for a couple of the same sex who have just had a child? Use gender-neutral language – such as ‘partner’ instead of ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ – and consider introducing new policies that cater to the specific needs of LGBTQ+ employees.
- Make a statement
Every company has a mission; a clear statement of their long-term goals and what they stand for. But not every company’s includes an acknowledgement of their commitment to equality. By explicitly stating your promise to create an inclusive workplace, you’re making LGBTQ+ employees as important as other business goals such as achieving market share or becoming a market leader.
- Recognise different needs
You wouldn’t put every single female employee in one category, so don’t for LBGTQ+ employees, either. As Darren Towers, executive director at Stonewall, says: “No workplace is the same, so diversity and inclusion cannot be a one-size-fits-all approach”.
The term ‘LGBTQ+’ encompasses so many different groups, with everyone occupying their own unique place on the spectrum. Ultimately, everyone is an individual, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender – so take the time to truly understand your employees and their specific requirements.
- Seek support
Introducing or expanding training programmes around LGBTQ+ issues is crucial to developing employees’ understandings of their LGBTQ+ colleagues and making everyone feel accepted. Organisations such as Stonewall offer useful toolkits to empower you to make your workplace more inclusive and are well worth checking out.
- Participate in events
In addition to attending one of the many annual events that focus on LBGTQ+ at work, supporting events such as Pride is a great way to make LBGTQ+ more mainstream, rather than a subculture, and get involved with the community. And it’s an added bonus that these events are vibrant and fun, too.
You don’t only have to focus on external events, either. Inviting in LGBTQ+ speakers or hosting events on LGBTQ+ topics is a great way to engage all your employees, form a wider community and develop support groups at work.
- Measure your success
While not every aspect of a LGBTQ+ friendly workplace can be reduced to figures on a spreadsheet, having clear, measurable goals is imperative to improving your workplace.
Consider questions such as: are you recruiting and retaining more members of the LGBTQ+ community? Have the number of discrimination grievances reduced? Have more employees completed LGBTQ+ training? Collecting anonymous data from your employees is another good way to monitor your journey to becoming a truly inclusive workplace.
- Compassionate culture
The above steps are all valuable considerations, but a LBGTQ+ friendly workplace ultimately requires a compassionate culture. Whatever our identities, we should all strive to be LGBTQ+ allies at work; creating inclusive environments where discrimination is called out and challenged.
As Christian Oropeza, VP at Long & Foster and member of the LGBTQ+ community, puts it: “My gender identity doesn’t play at all right now. I’m never like, ‘Hey, I’m Christian. I’m trans.’ Instead, I’d say, ‘I grew the company 300 percent. Give me a raise.’” We couldn’t agree more.
Get in touch today to find out how Druthers can help make your workplace more diverse and inclusive.