June is widely celebrated as the world’s Pride Month for the LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, gay, bisexual,, transgender, queer, and others) community. Yet, the struggle for inclusivity is far from finished, especially in the workplace. While the world has shown a better acceptance towards their existence, people from the LGBTQ+ community are still seen as “different” people when it comes to embracing and accommodating them in the evolving workplace. Companies need to foster inclusivity if they want to pursue workplace equality and make it more LGBTQ+ friendly.
While many companies worldwide have embraced comprehensive equality and inclusion policies, just over half have adapted these policies to particularly accommodate LGBT employees, according to Mercer’s LGBTQ+ Benefits across the World Survey. Unconscious bias in everyday conversation contributes to shaping perceptions of LGBTQ+ employees in the workplace. The issue here is how HR leaders can create a concrete strategy to embrace these employees to be treated no less than others. This is also to bridge employee communication gaps and foster a healthy workplace culture. To uphold anti-discrimination policy in your company, here is how you can you make the workplace more inclusive.
The first step towards creating a LGBTQ+ friendly workplace culture, is to develop and implement a strong anti-discrimination policy that emphasizes on inclusivity. The HR manager has to ensure that the company has a clearly-written anti-discrimination to stop harassment, bullying and retaliation based on sexual orientation and gender identity. This can be something like advising employees to not joke about sensitive topics that may harm people in the LGBTQ+ community. Warn them against using offensive language, passing derogatory remarks or gossiping with jokes ridiculing the LGBTQ+ stereotypes. It is important that you create a system where employees can report unlawful behaviors, while encouraging LGBTQ+ individuals to open and speak up.
Every company should provide an inclusive environment to accommodate the LGBTQ+ workforce. Companies can also support creation of groups and forums wherein, LGBTQ+ employees are encouraged to share their experiences, concerns, issues and support each other, while exchanging ideas on how to make better company culture. However, you need to also address that not all LGBTQ+ employees are ‘out and proud’, since some of them still choose to disclose their identity. Regardless whether they explicitly disclose their sexuality or not, you need to ensure that your work environment is inclusive for everyone. Providing space for growth and equal opportunities, right to survive and be accepted will encourage LGBTQ+ work groups to feel a sense of belonging, thus improving their engagement levels with the company and also facilitating talent retention in the process.
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Offering diversity training as part of equality and diversity training in the workplace may be a good way to inform everyone about LGBTQ+ concerns. Training ensures that your policies are received and respected throughout the company. To give effective training, the person (or service) who does the training should have extensive expertise and understanding of diversity and inclusion. Involving competent professionals might provide new insights and ideas to benefit your business. There are many non-profit communities that focus on LGBTQ+ empowerment, so you can find one from your region to help prepare for this training.
Don’t assume that all of your applicants identify as male or female, and use gender-neutral pronouns. For example, you may assume that referring to a possible candidate as “he or she” in a job description covers all bases, but using “they” or the second-person “you” would be more inclusive to non-binary or gender nonconforming individuals. Reiterate the company’s position that all candidates must be chosen based on their talent and appropriateness for a post, not because of their gender and sexuality.
Emphasising on workplace diversity today, it is challenging for employers and HR managers to ensure that, all employees are treated equally and fairly, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity However, cultivating an LGBTQ+ friendly and inclusive workplace culture is not only a good step to foster a healthy, and positive environment at work, but long-term impact can also be witnessed on the bottom line. Businesses that embrace all groups of employees, and treat them fairly are the only ones able to thrive, stay and sustain the growth momentum, during times of uncertainty in global markets by ensuring that their employee productivity levels are consistent, noted improvements on performance efficiency, better employee engagement and thus profitable business outcomes.
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