The world has come a long way in the last few years when it comes to LGBTQ+ inclusion, the 2000s and 2010s were the advents of equal adoption rights, legislation against homophobic bullying and abuse, the first trans pride event in the UK, and even the lifting of the ban for gay men to donate blood. While these developments show just how far the world has come, many workplaces still haven’t made the initial steps to build a more inclusive environment for LGBTQ+ employees. These steps don’t have to be massive and it’s frequently the smallest changes that make a world of difference.
What Does it Mean to be LGBTQ+?
LGBTQ+ is an ever-expanding umbrella term (hence the +) and represents individuals of various sexual orientations and gender identities. While the actual letters in LGBTQ stand for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer, the term can come to embody anyone who identifies as non-heterosexual, non-cisgender, or both.
The Benefits of LGBTQ+ Inclusivity in the Workplace
As is the case with all employees, when working within an environment that makes them feel comfortable and encourages their individuality, they become far more productive while also producing a higher quality of work. A study in the US reported that businesses could save a grand total of $9 billion an annum were they to implement more inclusive policies. Much of this comes down to the ill-health and stress levels of employees who either have to hide their sexuality/identity at work or face harassment from peers on account of either. Factor in the buying power of the LGBTQ+ market as well as the reluctance of some consumers to purchase from a brand that does not actively support the LGBTQ+ community, and the importance of business-wide inclusivity becomes apparent.
Tips for LGBTQ+ Inclusivity
Communication or Networking
Much of the discrimination faced by the LGBTQ+ community originates from a place of misunderstanding or prior superstitions/beliefs. While coming to understand and having the opportunity to openly communicate with individuals of different sexualities or gender identities won’t magically make everyone inclusive, it can help to grow empathy and will allow for employees to grow more accepting of the needs of others. A great way to do so is to encourage partnerships with businesses who employ or prioritise LGBTQ+ inclusivity as well as holding networking events with an LGBTQ+ spin to them.
Once a business gets to a certain size, they are required to create a host of policies for guidance on how to address various situations in ways which do not compromise the tone of the brand or the image of the business. Amongst these are policies with a focus on bullying or harassment resolution. While the goal may be the same, the steps required to remedy the issue will likely greatly vary and it’s important to prepare for instances of discrimination that may occur in the future. As well as discrimination, policies for things such as parental leave, pensions, and adoption also need to be reviewed and/or altered to more succinctly cater to LGBTQ+ requirements.
Celebration of LGBTQ+ Events
There are a whole host of LGBTQ+ events across the year; pride, LGBTQ+ history month, and trans visibility day, to just name a few. These events are a prime opportunity to provide training to employees by growing their awareness of various sexualities and gender identities while also showing a willingness to promote representation.