14 Jun How to build an LGBTQ+ Inclusive Workplace
It is known that diverse organizations outperform competitors in not only overall revenues, profits, and employee satisfaction, but also in creating a culture that allows and encourages everyone to succeed at work. Ensuring an inclusive workplace and incorporating inclusive practices for LGBTQ+ individuals gains the respect and support of the community and other minority groups who recognize the organization’s efforts in producing an overall inclusive work environment.
In this blog, we cover some of the proven solutions with demonstrated results in improving the workplace for LGBTQ+ employees.
The Benefits of LGBTQ+ Inclusion
LGBTQ+ Inclusion means that members of the LGBTQ+ feel that they can be their authentic selves, feel safe, and believe that they are given equitable opportunities to grow their career potential and succeed.
The LGBTQ+ Inclusive practices help organizations grow faster when all their employees are able to work together and collaborate fully without spending energy on “fitting in” or hiding aspects of themselves. When each productive individual feels comfortable in the workplace, regardless of their sexual orientation, they can give their full attention and dedication to their work, ultimately resulting in organizational benefits for the long-term.
While an inclusive work environment is one where all employees are able to contribute and feel like they belong; it does not require that employees agree with another individual’s lifestyle. Regardless of how someone feels about another person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, all employees should be required to treat everyone with respect.
Organizations should define appropriate workplace behaviors that are consistent with their stated beliefs and values about inclusion, such as using an individual’s preferred name and pronouns and speaking up when someone is not being treated respectfully. This process is about changing employees' workplace behaviors to be in accordance with the organization's expectations, not changing an employee's personal beliefs.
Economic Impact of LGBTQ+ Workplace Inclusion
A 2011 Williams Institute study found evidence that the business case for diversity motivates employers to take those actions (Sears & Mallory, 2011). The study found that almost all of the top 50 Fortune 500 companies and the top 50 federal government contractors (92%) state that, in general, diversity policies and generous benefit packages are good for their business. In addition, the majority of those companies (53%) have specifically linked policies prohibiting sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination or a decision to extend domestic partner benefits to their employees to improving their bottom line.
According to a February Gallup Poll survey, the percentage of U.S. adults who self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or something other than heterosexual has increased to a new high of 7.1%, which is double the percentage from 2012, when it was first measured. Additionally, the National LGBTQ+ Workers Center shows only 4.5% of the population identifies as LGBT - an estimated 11 million – and 88% are employed. This means many hide their sexual orientation to avoid discrimination. Unfortunately, when they are open about their sexual orientation, sometimes they suffer criticism and discrimination which leads to emotional stress which demotivates them and affects the quality of their work.
In recognition of the economic impacts of LGBTQ+ inclusion, the DC Center for the LGBT community’s managing director, Taylor Carney, was prompted to conduct a seminar to discuss the importance of awareness, behavior, etiquette, and best practices in the workplace with LGBTQ+ workers. It was emphasized during the seminar that with LGBTQ+ Inclusion they can lessen their stress level and increase their productivity, faster than ever.
LGBTQ+ Workplace Inclusive Policies
Defining LGBTQ+ policies in the workplace can provide guidelines for managers and individual employees to follow in order to avoid bias and discrimination against members of the community.
It’s important to make sure members of the LGBTQ+ community are included in the conversation and can contribute to identifying the policies and benefits that are most important to them, such as pensions or parental leave policies.
To make LGBTQ+ workplace inclusion more effective, organizations must consider providing formal training to include all the workers where the policies can be discussed and questions can be answered. A combination of online training, live virtual sessions and in-person experiential learning have been found to be most effective.
Establish an LGBTQ+ Network
Creating an LGBTQ+ network or Employee Resource Group (ERG) within the workplace can provide support to all staff who are members of the community, or are champions and allies. By establishing this network, an organization can provide a safe place and a community for their LGBTQ+ employees. This helps them feel safe and comfortable discussing workplace challenges which, in turn, results in building better workplace relationships, increasing empathy, and reducing emotional stress for employees and managers alike.
The LGBTQ+ community is an important part of any organization. Employers should strive to create an inclusive workplace for members of this community by identifying their unique needs, defining policies and offering training that will build and sustain a culture of LGBTQ+ equity and inclusion.