Helping LGBTQ+ Employees Feel Supported Beyond Just Pride Month
14 June 2023 - Evotix
At every organization, it's crucial to be committed to not only keeping people safe, but also helping employees feel safe to be themselves, irrespective of how they identify. And here at Evotix, we do just that. Creating a culture of acceptance and safety benefits your entire organization all year round.
Here’s an 8-step guide to ensuring your LGBTQ+ employees feel safe, heard and respected every single day:
1. Make your non-discrimination policies known
There’s a good chance that you already have comprehensive non-discrimination policies written down in black and white. These should explicitly prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression in all aspects of employment, including hiring, promotion and benefits.
To protect LGBTQ+ employees and gain their confidence, it’s your responsibility to make these policies known company-wide and actively enforce them. Create resources (e.g. employee handbooks) that clearly outline your discrimination policy so employees know how to act (and have faith that they’ll be protected) should they face unfairness or harassment in the workplace.
2. Make diversity and inclusion training mandatory for all employees
While many companies offer managers and senior leaders diversity training to enhance their understanding of LGBTQ+ issues and how to facilitate the needs of employees, the reality is that all employees should participate in this training. We recommend making such training mandatory for everyone within your company, with managers taking a more robust course if they’re leading a team. This will ensure that all employees and levels of management actively support and advocate for LGBTQ+ employees through inclusive leadership practices. These are invaluable skills that will benefit your business and your employees can take them with them throughout their careers.
3. Offer inclusive benefit packages
Another way to promote a culture of fairness amongst your workforce is by providing equal access to health benefits. From health insurance coverage for gender-affirming procedures to mental health support and partner benefits, ensure the same access is given to each staff member, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
4. Establish LGBTQ+ groups or committees
Promote the establishment of dedicated committees tailored to LGBTQ+ employees. Allocate budget to empower these groups to organize frequent events and offer valuable support, mentorship and networking prospects. These committees can also play a crucial role in holding leadership accountable by consistently evaluating non-discrimination policies and suggesting improvements when necessary. By providing a solid platform for LGBTQ+ employees to raise awareness and advocate for their rights, you foster a workplace that genuinely comprehends and respects its colleagues, enhancing your capabilities as a leader.
5. Regularly review and update HR policies
The workplace today does not look the same as it did 10 or even five years ago. Culture changes fast, so it’s important to regularly review company policies, employee handbooks and HR practices to ensure they are consistently LGBTQ+ inclusive. This includes using inclusive language, recognizing chosen names and pronouns and providing options for gender identification that go beyond the binary.
6. Educate employees on the importance of inclusivity
For LGBTQ+ employees to feel respected and accepted within your organization, it’s on you to foster a culture of respect and acceptance. There are many ways you can do this. For example, organize diversity and inclusion training sessions across teams and hold monthly seminars on current LGBTQ+ issues and terminology. The key here is to encourage open dialogue and create safe places for respectful discussion.
7. Celebrate LGBTQ+ holidays and events
Equality should be felt all year round. While your policy for inclusivity shouldn't solely revolve around LGBTQ+ events, it’s still crucial to recognize and actively promote them throughout the year. This includes occasions like Pride Month, National Coming Out Day (October 11), Transgender Day of Visibility (March 31) and the Stonewall anniversary (June 28), in addition to ongoing initiatives. Prioritize engaging with your LGBTQ+ employees leading up to these events and consider arranging company-wide gatherings where all employees can connect and celebrate together. By doing so, you foster unity and create opportunities for shared celebrations among your entire workforce.
8. Support LGBTQ+ charities or community organizations
To demonstrate your company’s commitment to social responsibility, sponsoring or partnering with an LGBTQ+ community organization or charity would be a great step to take. It not only enables employees to get involved in advocacy efforts outside the workplace and band together to make the community more inclusive, but it also has wonderful benefits for the community around you and might encourage similar organizations to do the same.
It's essential to recognize that Pride extends beyond the month of June. These steps are just a starting point, but by continually implementing and reviewing concrete measures to foster a culture of acceptance and safety, the positive impact ripples throughout your entire organization, benefitting everyone year-round.
To learn more about how to promote empathy and understanding across your workforce, read our blog: Making Workplace Safety About More Than Just the Physical
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