The Importance of LGBTQ+ Inclusive Workplaces

The Importance of LGBTQ+ Inclusive Workplaces
Ian Davies

The Importance of LGBTQ+ Inclusive Workplaces

The workplace should be a diverse and inclusive environment for all; somewhere where every employee can feel safe, accepted, can perform to their very best, and always be their true, most authentic self.

As we strive to make the world a more diverse and inclusive place for all, workplace inclusivity is of huge importance. Afterall, many people spend more time at work than they do anywhere else, so the experiences of working life have the power to positively or negatively impact employee performance and, most importantly, their mental health, happiness and life in general.

With this in mind, join us as we investigate how inclusive workplaces have been, and currently are, for LGBTQ+ people; the power of ensuring your workplace is LGBTQ+ inclusive; and top tips for ensuring a working environment is as inclusive for all as it can be.  

Unlocking Potential: The Power of Making Workplaces LGBTQ+ Inclusive

It should go without saying that a more diverse, inclusive workplace (and workforce) is likely going to be a stronger, more skilled and experienced, and more productive. And, most importantly, people will feel like they are able to be – and blossom as – their most authentic selves, working in friendlier, happier, and more welcoming places to be.

However, with some organisations still behind the inclusivity curve, it is important to continue to promote the potential and power of making workplaces LGBTQ+ inclusive, and there are no better ways to promote it than through sharing the experiences of LGBTQ+ employees.

Below are just a few of the benefits of an LGBTQ+ inclusive workplace, according to a blog from Stonewall, who asked 8 LGBTQ+ people for their first-hand opinions and experiences:

·         Great HR teams and procedures help employees inside and outside work

·         Healthier working cultures make for more confident employees

·         Employees can discover and celebrate their authentic selves

·         Championing LGBTQ+ inclusion from the top down dramatically changes employees’ experiences

·         Embedding LGBTQ+ inclusion transforms the entire culture of an organisation

·         LGBTQ+ employees bring unique perspectives across your work

·         LGBTQ+ inclusion means attracting and retaining excellent staff

·         Inclusive workplaces give hope to isolated LGBTQ+ people

How LGBTQ+ Inclusive are Workplaces Currently?

Various pieces of research and articles offering insights into LGBTQ+ workplace inclusivity suggest that, whilst many employers are taking action to ensure the environment for their people is diverse and inclusive for all, there is still plenty of work to be done, with many LGBTQ+ workers citing negative bias and experiences, including – in the worst cases – discrimination, harassment and bullying.

Examples:

-          The TUC’s ‘Being LGBT+ at Work’ study from June 2023 found that, whilst people have seen progress, “homophobia and biphobia are by no means extinct in the workplace”. Many respondents described, for example, “discriminatory and bullying experiences such as being outed by colleagues or being persistently misgendered”; and that workplace culture is “slower to improve” than workplace policies. It was also found that trans and non-binary stuff faced the most workplaces challenges, with progress of trans inclusion going backwards.

-          Deloitte’s Global 2023 LGBT+ Inclusion @ Work report also found evidence of the challenges LGBTQ+ workers experience in the workplace, both directly and indirectly. It found that whilst six out of 10 respondents “believe it is important to be able to be out at work about their sexual orientation”, less than half felt comfortable being out with everyone in their workplace, and that a third of them would only be out with select colleagues. Many worried about being treated differently if they were out in their workplace, even citing fears for their personal safety.

-          Meanwhile, the CIPD Inclusion at work: perspectives on LGBT+ working lives research found that “Forty percent of LGB+ workers and 55% of trans workers have experienced such conflict, compared with 29% of heterosexual, cisgender employees. In addition, a higher proportion of LGB+ workers (16%) feel psychologically unsafe in the workplace compared with heterosexual workers (10%), while for trans workers, this figure is even higher at 18%.”

Top Tips for Creating a LGBTQ+ Inclusive Workplace

As previously mentioned, and as supported by some of the research and experiences discussed above, many employers and organisations have made, or are in the process of making, their workplace inclusive for all.

But they can’t rest on their laurels. And those companies which are still lagging must be prepared and ready to make a change.

That’s why expert guidance, advice and support is essential, and why tips and suggestions such as Stonewall’s Tips for LGBT Inclusion in the Workplace, as listed below, are so important to not only learn about, but implement too.  

1. Ensure that your policies are fully inclusive of LGBT people

2. Get people involved across your organisation

3. Reward those involved in your LGBT network group

4. Decide upon a clear strategy and tactics

5. Engage staff members who don’t identify as LGBT

6. Ensure senior support

7. Speak to your staff

8. Understand your staff

9. Celebrate your successes


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