7 ways to be more LGBTQ+ inclusive in your workplace

team of lgbtq employees smiling at camera supporting one another

Throughout the month of June, people across the globe join together in celebration of LGBTQ rights and culture for Pride Month. Although the LGBTQ community appreciates this support from their allies, there is yet one place left to tackle- an LGBTQ+ inclusive workplace.

Over the past decade, inclusivity and diversity have significantly climbed up the corporate agenda. However, according to a Human right Campaign Foundation, 46% of LGBTQ+ workers aren’t open about sexual orientation in fear of homophobia, discrimination, and exclusion experienced at their workplace.

In light of the importance of creating inclusive environments, here are 7 ways YOU can help make sure your workplace is LGBTQ+ inclusive.

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1. STOP – don’t make assumptions.

First, building a relationship with your colleagues is key to keep a pleasant and dynamic work environment. Although coffee break gossip builds friendship with co-workers, be careful not to make assumptions when talking about their personal lives or risk misgendering.

NAIS TIP: When asking questions about your colleagues love life, use gender-neutral words such as “partner”. As a result, you avoid making an assumption or a need for corrections. Moreover, ask and use the preferred pronoun.

2. Be an ALLY – set an example

Second, leaders can lead by example and act as drivers of change. Therefore, lead by your values, and demand educational growth in your team.

Group of employees holding hands and supporting each other smiling and being inclusive

NAIS TIP: Set the tone for others to follow. Thus, use inclusive language, participate in educational courses, set up networks, and support groups. As a result of these actions, your behaviour reinforces your company’s values, culture and tolerance.

Remember, middle management is crucial to lead change. The reason being that they have a direct role in the day-to-day activities and behaviours in the workplace.

Thrive for a positive impact on your employees by showing consideration and kindness. Remember, a valued employee is a productive worker!

3. Every player counts – EDUCATE your team

Third, hold yourself accountable to the overall workplace culture. Remember, being a team player is as important as being the leader setting the example. Take the jump and motivate your co-workers to change their habits for more inclusive practices.

Be proactive. If you hear something homophobic or continuously misgendering, call them out.

Moreover, it’s crucial that inclusive practices start from day 1, with the employee’s onboarding process. The reason is to establish the company’s culture of being LGBTQ inclusive. As such, create an environment where LGBTQ employees aren’t solely responsible for change, but straight co-workers actively participate in the movement.

green heart

4. Set and enforce POLICIES

Fourth, establish key policies to outline your company’s tolerance for LGBTQ rights. A HRC report showed that 91% of Fortune 500 companies have anti-discrimination policies based on sexual orientation and 83% base on gender identity.

Here are some examples of policies that promote an inclusive and safe environment for LGBTQ+ employees:

  • Anti-discrimination policies against discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.
  • Health insurance including coverage of hormone therapy and gender confirmation surgery for employees in transition.
  • HR forms that include all genders and personal pronouns
  • Gender-neutral restrooms
  • Medical leave for transitioning employees
  • Domestic partner benefits

5. SUPPORT– create support networks

Showing support is a good starting point.

NAIS TIP: Create employee networking groups, seminars and conferences. Moreover, the act of valuing support networks and safe spaces for conversation is a non-negotiable to create inclusive environments.

Man smiling and holding out a hand shake

If required, appoint an ally to facilitate conversation between LGBTQ+ employees and management, so issues can be raised and discussed.

6. SHOW UP – participate in events

Stand up for what you believe in! Consequently, choose to transparently show support and commitment to the LGBTQ+ community. Additionally, encourage employees to participate in marches, educational webinars, and to join the conversation.

NAIS TIP: Support can be at the front of your doorstep, volunteer, listen, and partner with your local LGBTQ community.

A gentle reminder that pride month is once a year, but support and advocacy must be every. single. day. Non-negotiable, live your values.

7. LISTEN- and reflect

Lastly, remember to listen, reflect and communicate.

“Where ignorance is a master, there is no possibility of real peace”.

-Dalai Lama

Be an advocate for change and help your fellow colleagues feel safe. Therefore, allow all employees to feel included at work, ask the right questions, and listen.

Give the opportunity to your LGBTQ colleagues to share their experiences, thoughts and feelings in a judgement-free zone. By doing so, you leave room for an inclusive workspace.

Remember, communicate with your non-LGBTQ and LGBTQ staff on what they would like to change or discuss. Remember: ask, clarify, rectify!

May our kindness be contagious,

our courage motivating,

and our differences our strength!

Be the change you want to see in the world. Use these practices to create an LGBTQ+ inclusive workplace. If you think we missed something or would like to add to the conversation, feel free to contact us.

Happy Pride Month!

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