Every June, people around the world come together to celebrate and commemorate the LGBTQ+ community, history and culture with Pride Month. As the Pride festivities get underway, many organisations and businesses show their support with rainbow logos, new slogans, or Pride-themed products.
Building an LGBTQ+ inclusive workplace takes more than a rainbow profile picture – it requires a genuine commitment to understanding, accepting, and supporting individuals of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities across your organisation.
Unfortunately, the workplace can still be difficult for members of the LGBTQ+ community to navigate. Recent research shows that around 68% of LGBT employees reporting hearing negative slurs, jokes, or comments about their identity at work, while over 40% of LGBTQ candidates say that they would avoid a company that demonstrated a lack of diversity.
Research even shows that inclusive workplaces with a diverse workforce are more desirable by today’s recruitment candidates, with younger generations in particular looking for employers who actively and meaningfully engage with their social responsibilities. In fact, the diversity of experiences offered by inclusive workplaces have also been shown to actively boost employee engagement, increase teamwork potential, and improve creativity.
To help you take your first step toward making a positive impact this Pride month, we’ve put together our ideas for building an LGBTQ+ inclusive workplace that celebrates diversity, cultivates equality, and allows employees to work at their very best.
1. Cultivate psychological safety
In the workplace, a culture of psychological safety provides a safe environment where employees feel safe to take risks, express their ideas, and be themselves without fear of embarrassment, judgment, or backlash. A climate of mutual respect and open communication allows all employees to feel accepted, supported, and valued – regardless of their background or identity.
While cultivating psychological safety benefits all employees, it can be particularly meaningful when building an LGBTQ+ inclusive workplace. By promoting an open-door policy for discussing and disclosing personal concerns, your workplace becomes a safe space for individuals to express their feelings without fear of retaliation or unfair treatment. In addition, embedding psychological safety into your company culture leads to a workplace where LGBTQ workers can feel safe to disclose their identities at work – allowing them to live and work as their best, authentic selves.
Want to learn more about the best ways to improve your workplace’s psychological safety? Check out our dedicated training course here.
2. Encourage employee involvement in workplace inclusion
No matter what your policies or statements are, at its heart workplace inclusion is about the people within your organisation. So, when it comes to building a more inclusive environment for LGBTQ+ employees, that’s where you need to start!
Employee resource groups (ERGs) are invaluable for building a community and providing support to LGBTQ+ employees. An ERG is a voluntary group of colleagues who share similar characteristics or identities, promoting networking and collaboration among your workplace communities. By encouraging the formation of an LGBTQ+ employee resource group within your workplace, you can provide an opportunity for employees to offer their support, feedback, and knowledge to both their colleagues and employer. For inspiration, why not take a look at these award-winning LGBTQ+ ERGs across the UK?
Don’t forget too that for many LGBTQ+ people, allies (people who don’t themselves identify as part of the LGBTQ community, but support their LGBTQ+ friends and colleagues), are integral to everyday support. Highlighting allies to act as role models within your workforce can present opportunities for your employees to get involved with inclusive practice, provide an effective support system for their team members, and make a strong statement about your workplace inclusion practices.
3. Establish an inclusive workplace culture
Company culture is the key indicator to your both existing and prospective employees of your workplace’s dedication to inclusivity and diversity. That culture of encouraging and celebrating LGBTQ+ diversity starts from the top – with your leadership team! Encourage managers to take leadership roles within a culture of open dialogue and understanding – where all employees are not only respected and included, but can learn from and grow alongside their colleagues.
Inclusive language is key when building a diverse, welcoming workplace culture, as well as remaining mindful of potentially uncomfortable topics such as gendered uniforms, bathrooms, and home lives. Why not get your newly-formed LGBTQ+ employee resource groups together to come up with a new ‘inclusive language guide’ for your company that benefits your customers as well as your employees?
Looking for a way to properly benchmark your company’s culture of inclusion? The Workplace Wellbeing Charter is designed to help you build and improve your company wellbeing strategy with measurable goals and standards – find out more here.
4. Implement official workplace inclusion policies
Establishing and cultivating a thriving culture of workplace inclusion doesn’t happen overnight. That’s why formal policies still play a critical role in shaping the workplace environment. As such, it’s vital that your organisation has rigorous non-discrimination and anti-harassment company policies in place that explicitly protect your employees from discrimination and prejudice at work. This can also include reviewing your whistleblowing procedures, safeguarding policies, and Equality & Diversity statements.
You may also want to consider reviewing the inclusivity of your existing employee policies and benefits. Does your employee benefits scheme include improved access to diverse healthcare needs like fertility treatment and menopause support? Perhaps your maternity and parental leave policy documents could benefit from an inclusive language review, or your office could designate a gender-neutral bathroom (rather than reallocating resources for disabled colleagues!). Introducing, reviewing, and updating policies and practices for improved LGBTQ+ inclusion is a clear and purposeful statement that your organisation is committed to protecting the rights and dignity of its LGBTQ+ employees.
5. Provide diversity & inclusion training
Data shows that around 60% of employers in the UK offer some form of diversity training to their management team – but what about the rest of your workforce? While inclusive workplace practice often requires a top-down strategic approach, encouraging understanding and awareness of cultural and individual diversity is key to a healthy, inclusive workplace.
Diversity & inclusion training is among the most direct ways to foster empathy and awareness of LGBTQ+ issues among your workforce. When approaching your workplace inclusion training sessions, consider how you can educate employees about different identities and the unique challenges faced by LGBTQ+ individuals in today’s society. This can include encouraging employees and managers alike to examine their unconscious bias, engage with LGBTQ+ history and culture, and acknowledge the impact of language and behaviour on others. This directly promotes a more inclusive culture that both safeguards your employees and improves team collaboration.
If you’re looking for somewhere to start on your company’s inclusion training, Health@Work have designed a set of new courses for 2023 on Inclusion & Culture for both your managers and employees. These courses have been developed to provide an understanding of modern inclusion issues such as cultural awareness, unconscious bias, and inclusion best practices.
Want to be the first to know when our new courses launch? Click here to subscribe to our newsletter for the latest updates and information on our courses.
At Health@Work, Pride month means helping businesses like yours to build positive workplaces where all employees can feel safe, valued, and included.
We’ve updated the nationally recognised Workplace Wellbeing Charter with a brand new pillar of wellbeing focused on Inclusion & Culture. This new standard is designed to help employers develop safer, more inclusive environments that allow employees of all backgrounds and identities to flourish.
Want to see if you’re ready for your Workplace Wellbeing Charter accreditation? Head to our free online assessment to find out more.