22 Jun LGBTQIA+ Inclusion at Work
June is pride month and the perfect time to talk about inclusion in the workplace. In the spirit of celebration, great strides have been made to make work a more inclusive place for everyone with anti-discriminatory policies, offering LGBTQIA+-relates benefits, and increasing representation.
Now for the hard truth: we’re still falling short creating inclusion at work.
Many LGBTQIA+ employees are not feeling included. In fact, work is the second most common place where they’re experiencing discrimination. A study by Boston Consulting Group and New York City’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center found that 40% of LGBTQIA+ employees are closeted at work and 75% have reported negative day-to-day interactions as a result of their identity.
Hiring diversity is pointless if you don’t strive to create a culture of inclusion and diversity where everyone is free to bring their authentic selves to work.
Here are three ways you can start.
Normalize using the correct pronouns.
HR can help non-binary, transgender, and the like feel more comfortable at work by encouraging them and other employees to add their pronouns in all company-related property -emails, profiles, nametags, etc.
Meetings are another place where you can start off the meeting by making everyone feel comfortable. Instead of greeting everyone by saying, “Hi, guys!” you can say, “Hello everyone!” So simple a change can change how the entire meeting is going to go.
Keep in mind, however, that revealing their pronoun might be anxiety-inducing to some people while you want to encourage it, don’t force it.
At the end of the day, you want everyone to know that you can’t know what someone prefers to be called just by looking at them.
Integrate diversity in your benefits and policies.
Many companies have outdated policies and benefits that don’t support LGBTQIA+ employees. According to an analysis by the AP, more than 75% of survey respondents said that they would like companies to have clear policies to protect LGBTQIA+. 45% said they would like their employers to create a safe place for them.
But to create more diverse policies and benefits, diverse employees must take part in the decision-making process. If nothing else, seeing diverse leadership has been found to inspire employees.
Here are a few things to think about when revisiting the policies and benefits you currently offer:
- Do your benefits include non-binary and trans employees (gender reassignment surgeries, psychologists, healthcare)?
- Do you provide benefits for same-sex parents (adoption, parental leave)?
- Does your dress code allow for the safe expression of gender?
In addition, you’ll want to revisit your job descriptions and documentation to make sure they contain gender-neutral language, such as the pronouns we talked about earlier. Instead of using words like “he” or “she,” use more general descriptions such as “employee.”
Revisiting these benefits and policies more than on an annual basis will show your workforce that you not only care about diversity but that it’s top of mind.
Create a truly welcoming physical environment.
Making your LGBTQIA+ employees feel safe and welcome means paying attention to the physical environment as well.
A big part of this is allowing employees to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity. Not doing so can lead to anxiety, isolation, and fear. Some even keep from using the bathroom at all which can have tremendous effects on their health.
To combat this, you can think about implementing gender-neutral, single-occupancy bathrooms and emphasize that it’s open to everyone. The other option is to have gender-neutral multiple-occupant bathrooms that have single-occupant lockable stalls.
Regardless of which route you take, the solution needs to be safe, convenient, and respectful of all genders.
HR plays a major role in ensuring work is a safe place for all types of people and creating inclusion at work. Really, it needs to be a priority for us. LGBTQIA+ employees face unique challenges that can be addressed by creating a safe and welcoming environment in all aspects. If you haven’t yet begun the journey of creating a safe and welcoming environment for your LGBTQIA+ employees, now is the time to start! It’s not too late so give us a call and we’ll work together to come up with ideas that will work for your business.