LGBTQ+ inclusion is an issue that all businesses need to strive for, and there are many corporate benefits to this topic as well as it being a benefit to employees on an individual level. The Harvard Business Review reported that an inclusive workplace helps companies to attract and retain top talent, as well as boosting a brand’s appeal. Many organizations have made huge strides in supporting their LGBTQ+ employees but there are still many sectors which need to improve. Here are five ways to foster diversity in the workplace and support the LGBTQ+ community:
Establish Affinity Groups for Employees
Sometimes referred to as employee resource groups, affinity groups are employee-led and are designed to create a more diverse and inclusive workplace. Employee onboarding is a great way of educating staff and can be effective in helping to identify the values that are most relevant to minority groups, as well as putting goals into action within a business. They also help to boost employee engagement and provides specific communities with a voice and an opportunity to air their grievances and concerns.
Engage with the Community
No amount of training or advocacy can replicate the real-life experiences of the LGBTQ+ community, and those experiences vary considerably from person to person so each and every one needs to be considered when managing employees. However forward-thinking a business thinks it is, there will always be issues that are overlooked or processes that can come across as prejudiced without companies realising. For this reason, it’s vital that companies engage with the community and take the time to listen and learn.
Being a good ally can range from joining Pride activities to raising topics of inclusion at staff meetings, but however businesses choose to do it, visibility and showing signs of support is key. Talk about articles you read at the weekend, share information about events you know are happening in the near future – conversations like these create a more inclusive culture and shows that the organisation values diversity.
Set Up Policies
LGBTQ+ people are protected by the law, but companies should still strive for diversity policies in addition to this to protect their staff from discrimination. For example, Lloyds Banking Group have set up private healthcare provisions that include treatment for gender dysphoria to help transgender employees. LGBTQ-specific policies make a real difference in promoting a more inclusive environment where everyone feels accepted and supported.
One of the best ways to support the LGBTQ+ community is to listen – having someone to talk to can really make a huge difference if you’re a minority. But just because someone has come out to you, it doesn’t mean they’ve revealed their sexuality to everyone or that they’re ready to do so, so bear this in mind. Managers should be trained in being able to listen to their staff and provide support when employees need it, to help integrate diversity and ensure that staff feel comfortable discussing sensitive topics that they’re worried about.