10 Tips For LGBTQ+ Inclusion In The Workplace

Promoting inclusivity in the workplace is increasingly at the forefront of the challenges HR professionals face every day.

With only 35% of LGBTQ+ people feeling their employer is fully committed to inclusion, we explore the specific obstacles related to LGBTQ+ inclusion and offer actionable insights on how to address these challenges. Lead the charge with our top tips!

LGBTQ+ inclusion in the workplace - rainbow flag on black and white background

“One-third of [LGBTQ+ employees] are looking to move to a more LGBTQ+ inclusive employer, a figure that is even higher for those in an ethnic minority - Deloitte”

In a study conducted by Deloitte, it was found that only 43% of LBQTQ+ employees are out at work, despite 60% believing it is important to be honest with colleagues about sexual orientation. Personal safety concerns and fear of being treated differently prevent many from coming out at work. 

We use eight neuroscience themes to help us understand what an employee needs to thrive at work. Freedom and safety are key themes that directly impact employee happiness, which in turn impacts the bottom line. 

For LGBTQ+ employees, fostering an environment that allows the freedom for everyone to bring their true selves to work and provides a safe space to be out and proud is crucial. Here’s our tips to help you achieve this…

1. Education, Education, Education

One of the most significant steps towards LGBTQ+ inclusion is internal education. Lack of awareness and understanding can perpetuate unconscious biases and negative behaviours. Training programmes need to raise awareness about LGBTQ+ challenges, diverse perspectives and educate on the appropriate terminology.

According to a report by Stonewall, nearly one in five LGBTQ+ employees have experienced negative comments or conduct from colleagues because of their identity. This highlights the need for comprehensive training to foster empathy and acceptance. Educating employees helps reduce biases and promotes a more inclusive environment, which can be achieved through regular workshops and sensitivity training.

Employee listening programmes can support this by providing feedback on the effectiveness of these educational initiatives. Surveys and feedback tools can help HR understand where knowledge gaps exist and tailor training accordingly.

2. Inclusive Workplace Policies

Creating and maintaining inclusive HR policies is crucial for ensuring equal opportunities for all employees. Inclusive policies should encompass language that caters to everyone, including gender-diverse parents and same-sex partners. Moreover, anti-discrimination policies must explicitly cover sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.

Research by McKinsey & Company shows that companies with diverse executive teams are 25% more likely to have above-average profitability. Inclusive policies not only protect employees but also improve the company’s bottom line. However, policies need to be more than just written documents; they must be actively implemented and practised.

Gauge the effectiveness of these policies and get insights into areas needing improvement from your employees. Regular feedback ensures that policies are not just in place but are also making a tangible difference in the workplace culture.

3. Inclusive Employee Benefits

Review your company’s benefits to ensure they are inclusive of LGBTQ+ employees. This could include health insurance that covers domestic partners, gender-affirming healthcare and parental leave policies that are inclusive of all family structures. Inclusive benefits demonstrate that the organisation values all employees equally.

A study by Pichler et al found that supportive policies, such as diversity training and same-sex partner benefits, increase productivity and performance. This demonstrates the tangible benefits of inclusive employee perks. By offering comprehensive benefits, organisations can boost employee morale and retention.

Don’t forget to request feedback on which benefits are most valued by employees and identify gaps in current offerings. This feedback ensures that the benefits provided are aligned with employee needs and expectations.

4. LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Groups (ERG)

Encouraging the formation of LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) provides a platform for support, networking and voicing concerns. ERGs play a pivotal role in fostering a supportive community and signalling that the organisation values LGBTQ+ perspectives.

Research from Deloitte indicates that inclusive workplaces are six times more likely to be innovative. ERGs contribute to this by providing diverse viewpoints and fostering a sense of belonging. An active ERG can drive engagement and innovation within the organisation.

Listening programmes can track the impact of ERGs by collecting feedback from members and non-members alike. This data can help in refining the objectives of ERGs and ensuring they are effectively supporting LGBTQ+ employees.

5. Inclusive Language

Using inclusive language is a fundamental aspect of creating an inclusive workplace. This involves using correct pronouns, avoiding gendered terms when unnecessary, and being mindful of language that might exclude or alienate LGBTQ+ individuals.

According to Deloitte, organisations that actively use inclusive language and behaviours are better positioned to leverage the benefits of a diverse workforce. This leads to higher levels of employee engagement and productivity, contributing to overall business success.

HR can leverage always-on listening tools to monitor the adoption of inclusive language and identify areas where additional training might be needed. Continuous feedback ensures that inclusive language becomes an integral part of the organisational culture.

6. Celebrate LGBTQ+ Events

Recognising and celebrating key LGBTQ+ events like Pride Month, National Coming Out Day and Transgender Day of Visibility show solidarity and support for LGBTQ+ employees, providing opportunities for education and community building.

However, it’s important to avoid ‘rainbow washing’ – superficial support without meaningful action. Authentic engagement during these events, combined with year-round support, strengthens the organisation’s commitment to inclusivity.

Feedback from your people can help assess the impact of these celebrations as well as ensuring they are meaningful and contribute positively to the company culture.

7. Provide Gender-Neutral Facilities

Ensuring that your workplace has gender-neutral toilets and changing facilities is a simple yet significant step towards inclusivity. These facilities can make a big difference in the daily comfort and safety of transgender and non-binary employees.

According to a report by the Williams Institute, transgender individuals who cannot access appropriate restrooms are more likely to face physical and mental health issues. Providing gender-neutral facilities demonstrates the organisation’s commitment to inclusivity and can reduce stress for transgender employees.

One-to-one meetings or a simple survey can help identify any remaining barriers or discomfort related to facilities and ensure continuous improvement in this area.

8. Support Mental Health & Wellbeing

According to Mental Health UK LGBTQ+ people are 150% more likely to develop depression and anxiety disorders compared to the rest of the population. It’s therefore important to provide easy access to mental health resources, including counselling services that are sensitive to LGBTQ+ issues. 

Actively promoting mental health resources ensures that employees know they are available and feel encouraged to use them. This support can significantly improve employee wellbeing and productivity.

Feedback tools can gauge the utilisation and effectiveness of mental health resources, helping HR to adapt and improve these services as needed. It's also beneficial to speak to people directly who may be struggling, be that in person or anonymously via a tool like our close the feedback loop.

9. LGBTQ+ Leadership

Representation matters. Ensure that LGBTQ+ employees have opportunities for advancement and are represented in leadership positions. Visible LGBTQ+ leaders can inspire others and demonstrate the organisation’s commitment to diversity.

According to a study by Catalyst, companies with a higher representation of women and minorities in leadership positions perform better financially. This principle extends to LGBTQ+ representation as well.

Mentorship programmes and career development initiatives can support the advancement of LGBTQ+ employees. Continuous listening can then track the progress and identify areas where additional support might be needed.

10. Listen & Adapt

Create channels for ongoing feedback from your people about their experiences and the inclusivity of the workplace. Always-on listening and DEI surveying tools can help you to understand your people’s needs and experiences.

Regularly assess the effectiveness of your inclusion initiatives and be willing to make changes based on feedback. An adaptive approach demonstrates a commitment to continuous improvement, ensuring that inclusivity efforts remain effective and relevant.

In Conclusion…

Building an inclusive workplace where LGBTQ+ employees feel valued and respected requires ongoing effort and commitment. By educating employees, establishing supportive policies and celebrating diversity, organisations will create a culture where everyone can thrive. 

Promoting LGBTQ+ inclusion in the workplace is not only a moral imperative but also a strategic advantage. By focusing on the areas discussed above, organisations can create a more inclusive and productive workplace.

The Happiness Index platform can support HR professionals in measuring engagement and happiness, allowing for tailored programmes that meet the specific needs of employees. By leveraging our tools, you can ensure your inclusion efforts are effective and continuously improving. Book a platform demo with one of our experts today to see how we can help you create a more inclusive workplace.

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