It’s the 21st century. Should we even talk about LGBT inclusive workplaces? All people are equal and all people deserve to work in an environment that supports their choices.
Apparently, this still is an issue. The latest National LGBT Survey, carried out by the UK government, showed disturbing results. Harassment, discrimination, and bullying still affect LGBT people to a greater extent when compared to “straight” workers. The LGBT community faces a restricted job choice, an inability to be open about their sexuality at work, and reduced professional progression opportunities.
When asked about the most serious workplace incident they faced, 77% of the respondents said they didn’t report it because they thought any action would be worthless.
This is not acceptable. As a leader or manager, you know better. You know that the office environment has to be inclusive. You may think you’re doing enough, but are you?
In this post we’ll share 5 important tips on how to support a fully LGBT inclusive workspace.
1. Start with a policy
Does your organization have a policy regarding inclusion? You must make it very clear, and you should make sure everyone is aware of it. As a business owner, you have a legal and ethical responsibility to protect all employees from any kind of discrimination.
The policy must clarify that discrimination has no place in the workplace. Everyone is entitled to their opinion; that’s for sure. But as long as you’re the boss, no one has the right to express discriminatory opinions or comments in the workplace.
Needless to say, there shouldn’t be a disconnection between what you preach and what you practise. If someone reports actions that collide with that policy, you must analyze the situation and sanction the worker who violated the policy.
2. Promote workplace diversity
You mustn’t hire someone from the LGBT community just because of their sexual orientation. You mustn’t avoid hiring someone from the LGBT community just because of their sexual orientation. In fact, the candidate’s sexual orientation is none of your business.
Focus on the real qualifications for the job and choose the best candidate without paying attention to appearance and personal choices. In the ideal world, that’s how the hiring process should work. Such an approach will naturally lead to a diverse workspace that does not allow for any kind of discrimination to occur.
3. Support the LGBT community
You cannot just say you maintain an LGBT-supportive business if your actions don’t prove that. You have to inspire your employees to think beyond the narrowness of their own lives and choices. You have to be proactive when it comes to breaking the stigma and pushing the boundaries.
Leona Crafford, team leader at UKBestEssays, explains how important it is for a business to show it’s supportive: “It’s important for a modern business to participate in fundraising, volunteering, and community events that support the LGBT community. I believe that all of us can create a culture of diversity and inclusion that is not forced, but feels natural. Taking part in these events is just as important as participating in all other community events.”
4. Act locally
You may show support to the local LGBT community not only by participating in their events but also by offering job opportunities. Promote your business as an inclusive environment and invite all individuals with relevant skills and experience to submit a resume and apply for available positions.
Ensure them that as long as they meet all requirements regarding qualifications, they will be treated equally during the hiring process. Needless to say, you’ll need to act upon those promises.
5. Don’t make a fuss about it
When you’re trying to emphasize the fact that your workspace supports the LGBT community, that usually leads to social media posts and other kinds of declarations that make that specific statement. If you don’t do it well, it may easily seem like an exaggeration of the real situation. In your attempt to show your great support to the community, you’ll only label them as different. If you don’t do it as well as MAC Cosmetics does it, then don’t even bother emphasizing the fact that you accept these people.
The mere statement “I accept you” may be offensive to some people because it makes it sound like you accept them “despite their flaws.” The last thing you want is to be labeled as a business that uses LGBT rights as a marketing strategy. That’s not your intention and you don’t want to make it sound that way.
Yes; you do accept the LGBT community, just as you accept any other community. Creating a culture of diversity is not about emphasizing the rights of a single community. It’s simply about being all-inclusive, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, political and religious views, or any other personal characteristics.
The most important thing to do at this point is to update your company’s policy and live by those rules. Educate your staff about these policies and explain that this workspace is absolutely supportive to the LGBT community.