How to create a LGBTQ+ inclusive company culture
Taking the time to recognise Pride Month is important, but so is making the necessary changes to support the people we’re celebrating. After all, minority groups deserve more than a day or a month each year to feel safe, happy and equal. Even if you already consider your organisation to be very LGBTQ+ friendly, there are always more steps you can take to facilitate a more inclusive environment. Here are some of our favourite ways to improve the way you cater to underrepresented groups in your workplace.
Why is it important?
Let’s take a look at some statistics that might shock you:
- In the US, LGBTQ+ women make up just 1.6% of managers
- 30% of LGBTQ+ men have experienced sexual harassment at work
- 37% of transgender workers lack the support needed for promotion
While huge steps have been taken to prevent discrimination at work in the last 20 years, there’s still a huge way to go.
Everyone wants to feel at home at work. And creating a warm, inclusive atmosphere isn’t just beneficial for people already working with you. It’s also attractive to potential LGBTQ+ candidates, which, in turn, will benefit you as you’re more likely to build a diverse workforce. If you think about it, it’s cyclical. A workplace that supports and promotes minority groups is more likely to attract those groups, and once those people are there, they’re more likely to stay because it’s an enjoyable and rewarding place to be.
Around 1.5 million people identify as LGBTQ+ in the UK. You owe it to them (and your business) to create a secure and welcoming environment for them to thrive in.
Have you considered these initiatives?
Create a Diversity, Equity & Inclusion policy
A DEI policy has a multitude of purposes, from promoting a diverse workplace and highlighting your company’s values, to establishing you as a leader in the LGBTQ+ space. We’ve written a guide to building your own DEI policy, including steps on how to communicate it to the wider business and assess its ongoing effectiveness. We also have a handy policy template available for you to download for free here.
Make sure all policies are LGBTQ+ inclusive
As well as your DEI policy, it’s crucial that the rest of your workplace policies cater to LGBTQ+ employees. That’s everything from your parental leave and mental health to pensions, health insurance and relocation. For example, providing employees with fertility services beyond a simple infertility diagnosis, along with services for postpartum depression and gender transition support, can help to make workplace benefits more inclusive for LGBTQ+ individuals. You might also want to create a whistleblowing policy, to give people an outlet to raise serious issues and a process for the organisation to respond.
Consider installing all gender toilets
This one comes at a cost, but it might be a price worth paying. Unisex or all gender toilets are particularly important for trans and non-binary people who may feel uncomfortable in (or unable to use) gendered bathrooms. These are already commonplace across many train stations, schools and workplaces – some people think they’re the future. You might want to run a survey among your LGBTQ+ employees to gauge their opinion on how effective these would be before you make the decision.
Set up an LGBTQ+ network
The feeling of belonging is vital for our happiness at work. Not to mention, this study found that high belonging was linked to a 56% increase in job productivity. Belonging usually comes down to feeling valued, being treated fairly, and having a community you can relate to and learn from. An LGBTQ+ network is a great way to provide people with a safe space to discuss their thoughts, experiences and concerns. This could be as simple as a Slack channel to begin with, or someone from the team could lead a regular in-person committee (be careful how you approach this as it’s important to remember the onus to educate on LGBTQ+ matters shouldn’t fall to LGBTQ+ members).
Offer LGBTQ+ training
There are a whole range of training courses you can tap into if you want to make your workplace even more LGBTQ+ inclusive. Some workshops, for example, give an introduction to key topics and historical events (like the Stonewall riots) to provide context. Others train managers in language, stereotyping and assumptions relating to lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people in the workplace. Ultimately, the more you know, the better equipped you’ll be to provide a supportive, respectful workplace and to deal with any situations that may arise.
Encourage people to use their pronouns
Most people who don’t identify as LGBTQ+ have the privilege of not having to worry about misusing pronouns. But just because someone looks like a ‘he/him’ doesn’t mean they identify as that. In fact, many people don’t consider themselves to have a gender at all (non-binary individuals). In a professional environment, it’s especially important you clarify which – if any – gender people identify with so as not to offend anyone. It’s a small act of respect that can make a big difference.
This list of ideas to help you make your workplace more LGBTQ+ friendly is by no means exhaustive, but it’s a good place to start. If you want happier, more engaged employees, the best way to do this is by fostering an environment that caters to everyone – no matter their gender or sexual preferences.