Inclusion of LGBTQ+ people is so important to make sure that everyone feels safe and comfortable enough to bring their whole selves to work. Camille Brouard, who is a member of the LGBTQ+ community and works as a Senior Marketing Executive for Myhrtoolkit, talks about how to make workplaces more accepting and helpful for LGBTQ+ employees.
In the UK, organizations of all sizes are quickly making LGBTQ+ inclusion in the workplace a top priority. This goes for both small and large businesses, as being open to LGBTQ+ people gives all of them a clear competitive edge.
What does the term LGBTQ+ mean?
LGBTQ+ is a broad term that includes people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer. Note that more sexualities can fit under the LGBTQ+ umbrella, which is why the plus sign is used. For example, intersex people, pansexual people, asexual people, and people who aren’t sure about their sexuality or gender identity can all be included.
The LGBTQ+ umbrella covers a wide range of sexual orientations and gender identities. There are also many ways we can support and include LGBTQ+ people at their places of work.
The benefits of having LGBTQ+ people at work
The main reason for having an LGBTQ+-friendly workplace is to make sure that employees of all sexualities and gender expressions feel safe and valued, but this isn’t the only benefit. LGBTQ+-friendly workplaces also help businesses be more productive and make more money.
Out Now did a study in the US called “LGBT 2020: Show Me the Business Case for LGBT Diversity.” It found that the US economy could save $9 billion a year if organizations had better inclusion policies for their LGBTQ+ employees. This is partly because they don’t want to pay for the stress and health problems that come with having LGBTQ+ employees who have to hide who they are at work or face discrimination. The study also talked about how loyal and powerful the LGBTQ+ market is as a customer base. Also, customers are more likely to leave businesses where discrimination is known to have happened.
So, it makes business sense and is the right thing to do to have strong inclusion strategies in place for LGBTQ+ employees. This is because everyone will feel less stressed and be more productive if they know they are valued members of a team.
Strategies for including LGBTQ+ people at work
Here are some important strategies that SMEs can use to make their workplaces more welcoming to LGBTQ+ people:
- Review your policies to make sure they include LGBTQ+ people
- Having LGBTQ+ policies in the workplace is important for setting the rules for how to be more welcoming and avoid discrimination. LGBTQ+ inclusion should be a key part of your Equality and
- Diversity policy. Having a separate policy for LGBTQ+ inclusion is an even clearer way to show your commitment to fighting discrimination in this area.
Also, make sure that all of your policies, like those about parental leave, adoption, and pensions, are open to LGBTQ+ people.
Give training for LGBTQ+
As part of equality and diversity training, giving LGBTQ+ training at work can be a powerful way to teach everyone about LGBTQ+ issues. Training helps everyone in the organization hear and understand your policies. Plus, a training management system helps you keep track of how you’re doing.
Set up a network for LGBT
SMEs that are growing can help their staff by making an LGBTQ+ network. With a network, LGBTQ+ employees can get together in a safe place at work to talk to each other.
As a focus group, network members can also help you find and fix problems that affect LGBTQ+ staff, so you can keep getting better. The Global Diversity List has some great examples of networks.
Appoint LGBTQ+ allies
Do you work with people who are not LGBTQ+ but care about or are interested in LGBTQ+ rights? Get them on board as an ally for LGBTQ+ people. They can help promote LGBTQ+ inclusion in the workplace and provide support for LGBTQ+ employees.
List your pronouns
More and more people in business and the rest of the world are putting pronouns in their email signatures, on their social media profiles, and when they talk in meetings. By clearly saying your pronouns (she/her, he/him, they/them, or a mix of pronouns like she/they or he/they), everyone has become used to not assuming someone’s gender. When everyone is used to saying their pronouns, it makes it easier for trans and non-binary people to say theirs.
LinkedIn recently added an update that lets you add pronouns to your profile. Here is mine as an example (adding your pronouns is optional, as is my addition of the Pride flag as a member of the LGBTQ+ community!)
Incorporate gender-neutral language
Gender-neutral language doesn’t favor one gender over another. Using “they” instead of “he/she” in contracts and other company paperwork is a good step in this direction, as is keeping an eye on how gender is used in ongoing communications.
There are gender-neutral options in myhrtoolkit, so managers can choose from a range of default gender options or add gender information for an employee. Of course, the right option should always be confirmed with the employee before being set.
See this guide from Harvard on inclusive language to learn more about how to use language that doesn’t assume a person’s gender at work.
Create unisex toilets
When possible, there should be a bathroom option for both men and women, especially if there are only one or two toilets. People who don’t fit into the gender binary that single-sex bathrooms support feel more welcome in Unisex bathrooms. On top of that, unisex bathrooms are cheaper to build and cut women’s wait times by a lot.