LGBTQIA+ inclusion in the workplace plays a vital role in making sure everyone feels safe and comfortable in bringing their whole selves to work. The beginning of a new work year marks a great opportunity to review your policies and ensure your workplace is doing everything it can to make employees feel welcome, valued, and represented at work. The best employers understand that inclusiveness leads to greater outcomes for individuals, businesses, and organisations. They also believe that employees should be able to bring their entire selves to work, because everyone benefits when LGBTQIA+ employees are free to be themselves.
The businesses with the highest rates of diversity and inclusion are the ones that win, from hiring the best workers and generating a happy workforce with high job satisfaction to stimulating innovation and higher financial success.
The stats speak for themselves.
- 67% of job seekers consider workplace diversity an important factor when considering employment opportunities, and more than 50% of current employees want their workplace to do more to increase diversity.
- A 2018 study by Harvard Business Review found that the most diverse companies were also the most innovative. Without a diversity of ideas and perspective, innovation suffers. These companies had 19% higher innovation revenues.
- The new generation of workers is the most diverse in history. A new global survey conducted in 27 countries found that nearly 1 in 5 young adults identifies as non-heterosexual and non-cisgender. If you want to attract the next generation of leaders, you have to appeal to them.
So what's your organisation doing to create an inclusive work environment? Today, our communities are going through an important generational shift, both in how they define themselves and what they expect of workplace inclusion.
The following practices are examples of how you can build inclusive workplaces for LGBTQIA+ employees.
Review your policies for LGBTQIA+ inclusion
This is an important first step. Put policies into writing that will make your workplace more inclusive. Update your office code of conduct and ensure your HR policies and staff benefits apply equally to LGBTQIA+ employees and their families.
Facilitate LGBTQIA+ training for staff
LGBTQIA+ awareness training for staff is an excellent method to ensure that everyone is on the same page. There are several tools online that may assist you in introducing your team to the LGBTQIA+ community so that you can create a safe and welcoming environment for staff and customers that may assist you in introducing your team to the LGBTQIA+ community so that you can create a safe and welcoming environment for staff and customers.
Build an LGBTQIA+ network
LGBTQIA+ networks provide a space for employees to feel less isolated and authentically express themselves at work. They can also help devise new initiatives to help drive better inclusion policies within the workplace.
Appoint LGBTQIA+ allies
Allyship is key to creating inclusive workplaces. Being an ally is about choosing to visibly and vocally stand up for the rights of others and speak up about negative behaviours that can take the form of unconscious bias or microaggressions. By helping LGBTQIA+ employees feel included, recognised, and valued, allyship can improve employee engagement and productivity.
Introduce gender-neutral language
Language matters, and it’s a relatively simple change that will have a big impact. It’s easy to avoid using gendered language in communication. Instead of starting an email with “Hey Guys,” consider using words like “everyone, all, or team”.
Encourage the use of personal pronouns
You can also encourage employees to add their pronouns to email signatures as a simple and respectful way to affirm other people’s gender identities, and acknowledge transgender, gender diverse and non-binary people.
Create gender-neutral bathrooms
We all use the bathroom. And we should all have the right to feel comfortable when nature calls. Gender-neutral bathrooms send a clear message that you respect every person for who they are and what they contribute, not by what sex they were assigned at birth or their gender identity.
Celebrate LGBTQIA+ recognised days
Recognise and celebrate with your LGBTQIA+ staff and customers when important days come up in the calendar. IDAHOBIT (International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia), Wear it Purple, Pride Month and Mardi Gras are just some important days you can get behind in the workplace, unite communities, celebrate or use as an opportunity to raise money for charity.
If you would like to know more about what you can do to create a more inclusive workplace, the Diversity Council of Australia has some incredible resources: https://www.dca.org.au/topics/lgbtiq