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How to Create a more LGBTQIA2S+ Inclusive Workplace

Pride Day is a day which commemorates the Gay Liberation Movement – specifically the Stonewall Uprising in June 1969. Pride Month is a celebration and recognition of the LGBTQIA2S+ community, their activism, culture, and impact in the world. This is a time for us to celebrate, raise awareness, educate, and fight for LGBTQIA2S+ rights. This begs the question – is your workplace LGBTQIA2S+ inclusive, and if not, how can you change that?

There are a number of subtle, but hugely meaningful and appreciated things that can be done to show support and solidarity to LGBTQIA2S+ co-workers and allow them the space to fully be themselves.

Inclusion – what is it?

While diversity and inclusion are often spoken about together, we need to keep in mind that they are very different concepts. Diversity is in reference to a workforce which is made up of a mix of individuals in terms of cultural backgrounds, geographies, physical abilities and disabilities, religions, genders, and of course, sexual orientation. It’s important to understand however, that diversity goes beyond these social categories. It should also include the subtle nuances which makes us unique, such as our different ideas, values, perspectives, preferences, and characteristics.

While this sounds quite straightforward, and many companies have successfully tackled the issue of diversity in the workplace, inclusion can easily be overlooked. Inclusion at its core, is the culture in which the mix of individuals can come to work, feel comfortable and confident to be themselves, work in a way that suits them and delivers your business needs. Inclusion makes sure that everyone feels valued and more importantly, adds value.

“Diversity is having a seat at the table. Inclusion is having a voice and having that voice be heard.” – Kadai Tubman, Nielsen

Why is Inclusion so Important?

A survey conducted in 2018 by the Human Rights Commission found that 46% of LGBTQIA2S+ employees admit to being closeted at work. To add to this, one in five LGBTQIA2S+ employees have been asked to dress in a more feminine or masculine manner. This is not okay, and these are the kinds of issues that need to change.

Besides the obvious moral and ethical reasons behind the pursuit of a more inclusive working environment, studies also show that LGBTQIA2S+ friendly companies outperform others. These companies seem to outperform the broader market when it comes to stock price gain, investment banking and research. Deloitte wrote a great research article, which found that companies with inclusive talent practices in hiring, promotion, development, leadership, and team management generate up to 30% higher revenue per employee and greater profitability than their competitors.

Ways to create a more LGBTQIA2S+ Inclusive Workplace:

Gain Support from Senior Staff

The first step, and one which is essential for the success of the rest, is for leaders at all levels to be onboard and take the steps to change the company from the top down. You need to find individuals who can implement the other initiatives and hold others who fail to uphold certain behavioural values accountable. These senior change-makers can also serve as mentors for junior LGBTQIA2S+ workers, providing valuable insight and guidance in the workplace.

Further to this, something which is practiced in companies which are actively working on LGBTQIA2S+ integration, is something called reverse mentoring, which benefits both sides. This provides an opportunity for junior employees to build relationships with senior employees, but also for the senior employees to learn from the junior employees with varying skills and knowledge. This helps build understanding, improves inclusivity, and paves a path for career development of these individuals all at the same time.

Change Your Recruitment Strategy

The most important part of building a business that is both diverse and inclusive, is to ensure that your business is taking the steps towards this from the start. It’s crucial that recruitment strategies are amended to make sure that LGBTQIA2S+ candidates aren’t excluded in the hiring process, or that their differences aren’t going to affect their chances of landing the job.

Farosian’s Social and Digital Media Screening process ensures complete objectivity, void of human bias and prejudice due to the fact that only relevant information is processed. We make use of a combination of emotional and artificial intelligence to ensure uniformity across the board, so that you can hire the best candidate for the job – every time.

Update Policies and Ensure Inclusive Benefits

It is vital for employers to consistently re-look at existing or outdated policies. These need to be updated to be more inclusive to LGBTQIA2S+ employees. Other ideas include celebrating Pride Day/Month and employees differences. Remember to communicate changes in policies and ensure transparency across the board, to avoid miscommunication around expectations and consequences.

Benefit packages and non-discrimination clauses are without a doubt, some of the most important parts of this inclusive transformation. Companies need to offer equal benefits to all members of the business, regardless of their sexual orientation. This includes parental leave, adoption leave, and taking time off to take care of dependents.

Create a Gender-Neutral Environment

This is something that can be done quite easily, but it makes a world of difference. Some examples include the establishment of a gender-neutral bathrooms, educating employees about language and pronoun use, and finally fostering an environment which allows people to be themselves, communicate openly, and which works to support one another.

Strive to keep improving

Although it might seem like a silly item to add to the list, these things take time. There will be lessons to learn along the way, and there will be things that work, and things that don’t. The most important point is that your business is taking a proactive approach, and striving to do better, and be better. It takes teamwork, communication, empathy, and understanding to reach a point where a company is truly inclusive.

Educate Yourself, and Educate the Team

Education is key – you cannot expect individuals to change or for real inclusion to happen without the knowledge. The first step is to take the time to educate yourself, educate your employees, and admit that you might not know best. Only then can you create space to improve and grow together.

Creating a more inclusive working environment is something which all companies should be doing, but before that can be done – we need to do it in our everyday lives too. Together, we can create a more inclusive society, which allows room for everyone to be empowered, equal, and happy.

Although this list doesn’t cover everything that can be done, it is a good start. This link is to a detailed article by the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation, which covers everything businesses need to know about inclusivity in the workplace. We highly recommend giving it a read, and seeing how you can implement these changes in your business.