Last week marked the beginning of June and the beginning of Pride Month; A month dedicated to acknowledging and celebrating LGBTQ+ communities around the world.
Many companies will be changing logos and branding to include the rainbow flag to show solidarity and support for the LGBTQ+ community and their LGBTQ+ employees. However, this support needs to go beyond the month of June. It is an employer’s duty to promote diversity and inclusion, and empower their LGBTQ+ employees all year round, not just during Pride Month.
While progress has been made over the decades, the workplace is not always as diverse and inclusive as you may initially think. A report from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) published in February showed that more than 40% of LGB people experienced conflict in the workplace compared to just 29% for their heterosexual colleagues, with this percentage rising to 55% for transgender and non-binary staff.
This conflict comes in the form of being undermined, humiliated, or discriminated against by other colleagues, with the report suggesting that these issues are often left unresolved. More needs to be done to protect and support LGBTQ+ people within the workplace, particularly trans people where there is a significant lag in inclusion and understanding of the challenges connected with gender identity.
Here at Kiwi Recruitment, we have looked at the steps you can take to be inclusive and supportive of your LGBTQ+ employees all year round, not just for Pride Month.
Understand where you already are with your diversity and inclusion
To better understand what you need to do to become a more diverse and inclusive employer, you need to know where you are currently at with your diversity and inclusion. The best way to do this is to talk to your employees and hear about their experiences when it comes to diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
This can be done via an anonymous survey using online forms, which will encourage your employees to be more honest with their answers. However, if you are a small company then the survey might not be as anonymous as you want it to be. Keep this in mind when thinking about the questions you want and need to ask to give you answers that will provide the most insight.
We also recommend giving the option for written feedback rather than simple check box answers. This gives your employees the chance to go into more detail and provide answers in their own words rather than basic “agree” or “disagree” answers. You may also find something unexpected in their responses.
Do not just rely on your LGBTQ+ employees to educate you on how to be a diverse and inclusive employer, you must take some time to invest in self-education as well.
There is a huge variety of free resources available from different organisations on how to be inclusive of LGBTQ+ people. We recommend checking out Stonewall, which have resources specifically for employers on how to create inclusive workplaces.
There are also widely available documentaries, films, podcasts, and social media campaigns where LGBTQ+ experiences are explored with nuance. Most are created by LGBTQ+ people themselves, so are another great way to hear about the lived experiences of different LGBTQ+ people. Not all of them will be workplace-specific, however, like any employee, you need to be able to understand your LGBTQ+ employee’s whole life experience rather than just what is relevant to the workplace.
You can also use Pride Month to encourage your employees to also invest in some self-education on the matter. Doing this could then influence long-term, everyday language and behaviour that may cause LGBTQ+ employees to feel included rather than excluded (e.g., using preferred pronouns in email signatures, and using language that doesn’t assume sexuality or gender).
Provide staff policies and training
Make sure you have a clear mission statement in your diversity and inclusion policies that outlines your support for LGBTQ+ employees, including measurable outcomes that hold you accountable as the employer.
You may find that after consulting your employees that you might want to make some changes to your policies to reflect what they have said they need for a more diverse and inclusive workplace. You should ensure that you communicate any changes to policies, so all employees are up to date on what is expected of them, and the consequences of not adhering to the policies.
Provide training to all your employees on diversity and inclusion in the workplace. This can come in the form of e-learning, in-person training, or both and can include all employees from underrepresented backgrounds, not just LGBTQ+ employees. This training can address, prevent, and educate staff on microaggressions and demeaning behaviour in the workplace, and then in turn encourage employees to report this behaviour when they see it to support their LGBTQ+ colleagues.
Provide structural support for LGBTQ+ employees
Make sure any support services or programmes you offer employees are also inclusive of LGBTQ+ people. For example, making your health coverage inclusive by supporting leave for transitioning employees.
Mental health issues can affect all employees, but LGBTQ+ people are disproportionately affected. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, LGB adults are more than twice as likely to experience mental health issues, and transgender adults are nearly four times more likely. Therefore, it’s important to think about your LGBTQ+ employees when creating an employee mental health and wellbeing programme.
Creating an LGBTQ+ staff network could also be greatly beneficial as it creates a safe space for your LGBTQ+ employees. The network can also organise activities that are open to all employees, not just those in the community, where they can all learn from and support each other.
Ensure your diversity is throughout the entire employee experience
While making sure your current LGBTQ+ employees feel included in the workplace is incredibly important, you also need to be focusing on your diversity and inclusion in your recruiting and onboarding process too.
According to Anglia Ruskin University, LGBTQ+ applicants are 5% less likely to be offered a job interview than heterosexual applicants with similar skills and experience, suggesting there is still some level of bias in some companies’ recruitment processes.
Implementing a blind resume screening (removing names, gender signifiers etc.) can help reduce unconscious biases during the hiring process and benefits all applicants, not just LGBTQ+ people. By providing your recruitment teams with training on inclusive hiring practices, you can ensure that unconscious bias is being managed, diversity is being sought, and the progressive working culture you have worked for is being maintained.
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