LGBTQ+ inclusion in the workplace is fast becoming a priority for organisations of all sizes across the UK. This includes SMEs as well as big businesses, as LGBTQ+ inclusivity offers a distinct competitive advantage for all organisations and encourages a better workplace culture.
As an umbrella term, LGBTQ+ includes lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people, with the plus symbol to include other identities that feature under the LGBTQ+ umbrella.
The benefits to an LGBTQ+ inclusive workplace extend beyond that of making sure employees of all gender identities and gender expressions feel safe and valid, though this is the primary reason. LGBTQ+ inclusive workplaces benefit businesses too in terms of productivity and profitability, as studies have shown that people perform better when they can be themselves.
So, having inclusion strategies in place for LGBTQ+ staff make sense from a business perspective as well as an ethical standpoint. This is because all employees will feel less stressed and more productive as respected members of a cohesive team.
Here are some LGBTQ+ inclusion strategies your business can consider for adopting a more LGBTQ+ friendly workforce:
Having LGBTQ+ policies in the workplace is crucial for setting the guidelines on how to be more inclusive and avoid discrimination. LGBTQ+ inclusion should be a core part of your Equality and Diversity policy; having a separate policy for LGBTQ+ inclusion is an even clearer way to show your commitment to tackling discrimination in this area.
When reviewing if your policies are fully inclusive of LGBT people, it’s important to pay particular attention to family friendly policies, absence management, as well as health insurance and relocation allowances. You should make sure your policies explicitly mention LGBTQ+ people.
Gender-neutral language avoids bias towards a particular gender. Using ‘they’ instead of ‘he/she’ in contracts and other company documentation is a good step towards this. This inclusive language is always best to begin with for new employees, until of course, the preferred pronoun is identified.
Offering LGBTQ+ training in the workplace as part of equality and diversity training can be a powerful way to educate everyone about LGBTQ+ issues. Training helps ensure your policies are heard and understood across the organisation.
Setting up a network group specifically for LGBTQ+ employees can be a great way to support staff. These groups not only help employees meet in a safe space but the members can help you know where you’re doing well and which areas may need altering, so you can continually improve your approach.
Are there non-LGBTQ+ people in your workplace who are passionate about or interested in LGBTQ+ rights? Get them onboard as an LGBTQ+ ally. They are a crucial element of ensuring inclusion for all. They can help spread the message that diversity is celebrated by your organisation.
Adding pronouns in email signatures, on social media profiles, and stating them in meetings has become much more prevalent in business and the world more generally. Clearly stating your pronouns has become a way for everyone to normalise not assuming someone’s gender identity. When everyone gets into the habit of stating their pronouns, this helps trans and non-binary people feel more comfortable to state theirs.
Whenever possible, there should be a gender-neutral bathroom option, particularly if you provide singular toilets. Gender neutral bathrooms are more inclusive for non-binary people, who don’t identify within the gender binary that single-sex toilets uphold.
Celebrating LGBTQ+ History Month, Pride, or Trans Day of Visibility just as you would other important days in the calendar. This will be a great boost to LGBTQ+ awareness and inclusion throughout the year.
You can use these dates and milestones as learning opportunities for all staff. Involve LGBTQ+ and non-LGBTQ+ employees and celebrate important days and events to continuously spread awareness of your policies.