Organizations that embrace inclusivity and diversity report higher revenues, profits, and employee satisfaction rates; therefore, it's essential to consider and embrace diversity when hiring employees. Diversity creates creativity, builds respect among employees, and creates opportunities for everyone.
Everyone is different, and that's the beauty of humanity. We all look different, have varying behavioral traits, different sexual orientations, walk differently, and have different diet preferences. The list is endless.
Can you imagine your employment is based on a difference that doesn't affect your competence at work? Well, that was the case in more than half of the states in the U.S.
Before June 2020, firing employees who identified themselves within the LGBTQIA community was legal. Despite the Supreme Court ruling prohibiting workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation, many queer-identified employees still feel discriminated against at work.
According to a recent report published by Williams Institute:
38% of LGBT employees experienced harassment at work;
34% of queer-identified employees have left their job due to ill-treatment by an employer.
40% of LGBTQIA employees are closeted at work, and 26% of these individuals wish they could be out at work.
Here are 5 crucial ways to promote LGBTQIA inclusivity in the workplace that will create a healthy and safe working environment.
1. Embrace gender identity.
One of the key ways you can support LGBTQIA employees is by referring to them with their preferred pronouns. Many people within the community have non-conforming gender identities and therefore use non-binary pronouns. Nonbinary is a term that can be used by people who do not describe themselves or their genders as fitting into the categories of man or woman. It is important to appreciate that their biological sex does not bind their gender, and they don't identify themselves with traditional constructs such as male or female.
Find out what pronoun they prefer, whether it's 'he,' 'she,' 'they,' or 'them,' and make an effort to use it. Ensure you create an environment where they can express themselves individually rather than how everyone else expects them to. Educate other employees on recognizing pronouns and encourage them to use them accordingly.
Ensure the recruitment process is inclusive, such that the applications include non-conforming genders. Also, having gender-neutral bathrooms creates further inclusivity. You could either have gender-neutral toilets only or have unisex gender toilets in addition to single-sex restrooms.
2. Have inclusive policies.
Implement a zero-tolerance policy on discrimination or bullying at work. Review the current anti-harassment policies and ensure they include inclusive language supporting your LGBTQIA employees.
Ensure policies such as the dress code are also inclusive with no stereotypes that discriminate against gender. For example, policies that prohibit men from wearing makeup or jewelry should be altered with a more gender-neutral overview.
Mary Barra, the CEO of General Motors, made news when she replaced a ten-page dress code policy with two words, 'Dress appropriately". She created an environment where employees could express themselves without gender-based restrictions.
Only through inclusive policies can you create a healthy and safe work environment for LGBTQIA employees where they feel protected, valued, and appreciated.
3. Offer regular training.
Education is fundamental in developing inclusivity in the workplace. Regular training will increase awareness and eliminate discrimination against LGBTQIA people in the workplace.
This further enhances your employees' knowledge and shows your LGBTQIA employees that you care about them being seen, felt, and heard. Today there are several resources available on the internet that provide quality training materials you can use in your company. You can also outsource the training from specialized companies and LGBTQIA organizations specializing in helping to transform the workplace.
Offer training sessions during the new-hire process in addition to regular ongoing training. Every new employee needs to be aware of the rights LGBTQIA employees have within the workplace they are getting into.
Consider covering these critical topics in your training sessions:
Understanding the LGBTQIA acronyms
Reporting workplace harassment
Inclusive conduct at work
Allyship: becoming an LGBTQIA ally
Suggest LGBTQIA employees develop affinity groups to have safe and supportive workplace spaces to discuss any issues.
4. Offer employee assistance programs
These programs support employees in several areas, such as mental health, substance abuse, legal assistance, and counseling. While these programs are valuable to any employee, they are additionally helpful to LGBTQIA employees who are more at risk for mental health issues.
The availing of these programs and implementing other ways to create a healthy workplace shows your employees that you care for their well-being. Employees deserve to feel safe at work.
5. Create an inclusive work culture
Embrace a work culture that appreciates everyone regardless of their differences. Every employee deserves equal and fair treatment. However, putting these policies in words isn't enough. As an employer, it's essential to instill the culture and model inclusive behaviors that the rest of the workforce will emulate.
Don't just say it. Do it.
Make it clear that employees must be respectful to everyone regardless of how they feel about another employee's gender identity, expression, orientation, or any other preference. Employees are the culture advocates of a workplace. The beliefs and values they uphold shape the culture of the workplace. When the workplace culture aligns with all employees, it creates an all-inclusive environment.
Take pride in your employees and show them how much you value them. As an employer, i's your responsibility to implement the actions that create diversity and foster inclusivity in your organization. Build an inclusive workplace by changing in your recruitment application processes, implementing new company policies, continuous education, and creating gender-neutral spaces.Taking the above steps will build an environment where colleagues become supportive allies to LGBTQIA employees, and the LGBTQIA employees feel included.