The struggle for LGBT (Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) equality rights continues to stir a global movement in the workplaces of today. While the 21st century society shows better acceptance towards their existence, LGBT individuals are still seen as peculiar beings when it comes to embracing and accommodating them in the evolving workplace.
In an effort to uphold anti-discrimination policy in your organisation, how can you make the workplace more LGBT-friendly?
A study conducted by Human Rights Campaign Foundation reveals that majority of LGBT employees (53 percent) are closeted at work. There are many reasons, why these individuals cannot be open about their identity. Some of the top reasons are, they are afraid of making people feel uncomfortable (38 percent), possibility of being stereotyped (36 percent), losing connection or relationship with co-workers (31 percent), and might not be offered career development or advancement opportunities (23 percent).
Unconscious bias in everyday conversation also contributes towards shaping perceptions of LGBT employees in the workplace. The study also finds that, nearly two-third of respondents heard lesbian and gay jokes, 43 percent respondents heard bisexual jokes, and 40 percent heard transgender jokes at the workplace. Also as a matter of fact, allowing LGBT individuals to remain closeted won’t be the best strategy for tapping organisational growth prospects either.
The same study further reveals that, when LGBT individuals are allowed to be open and supported at work, they will be 20 to 30 percent more productive. Given these statistical findings, creating an LGBT-friendly workplace culture would help firms accelerate productivity, and also boost profits.
However, the issue here is, how can HR leaders create a concrete strategy to embrace LGBT presence, bridge employee communication gaps and foster a healthy workplace culture. Enlisted below, are some steps to address this growing area of concern in the workplaces of today:
The first step towards creating a LGBT-friendly workplace culture, is to develop and implement a strong anti-discrimination policy. This policy will be at the forefront to protect rights of LGBT employees in the workplace.
The HR manager has to ensure that the organisation has a clearly-written anti-discrimination to stop harassment, bullying and retaliation based on sexual orientation and gender identity. It is important that you create a system, where employees can report unlawful behaviours, while encouraging LGBT individuals to open and speak up.
Every company should provide an inclusive environment to accommodate the LGBT workforce. Companies can also support creation of groups and forums wherein, LGBT employees are encouraged to share their experiences, concerns, issues and support each other, while exchanging ideas on how to make better company culture.
Provide space for growth and equal opportunities, right to survive and be accepted will encourage LGBT work groups to feel a sense of belonging, thus improving their engagement levels with the organisation and also facilitating talent retention in the process.
It is crucial to socialise the anti-discrimination policy to all divisions within your organisation. You can also provide diversity training for employees and supervisors. In this training program, you can emphasise on the conducts that are allowed and prohibited in the workplace. For example, you should warn your staff against using offensive language, passing derogatory remarks or gossiping with jokes ridiculing the LGBT stereotypes.
You should eliminate any form of bias during the hiring process. First of all, you need to make sure that the job ad posted, does not indicate any form of bias towards particular employee groups.
If you aim to enforce a fair hiring process to attract the best talents to your organisation, then you should start avoiding to interrogate employees with discriminatory questions during interviews.
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.
Cultivating an LGBT-friendly and inclusive workplace culture is not only a good step to foster healthy, and positive environment at work, but it’s 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.