Creating a welcoming workspace requires more than just providing equal opportunities. Learn how to create an inclusive environment for LGBTQ+ employees.
Equality and inclusion are essential factors that should be in the workplace, irrespective of race, gender, sexual orientation, or other protected characteristics. While we’ve made progress in the past few years in terms of LGBTQ+ rights, many companies still struggle with making their work environment inclusive for everyone. This often results in LGBTQ+ employees feeling isolated or discriminated against.
It’s the employer’s responsibility to foster an inclusive work culture. Let’s take a close look at how employers can create an inclusive workplace for LGBTQ+ employees.
Have Zero Tolerance Toward Bullying and Harassment
Bullying and harassment can have a devastating impact on the mental health of LGBTQ+ employees. Employers must have zero tolerance toward bullying and harassment within the workplace. You can create a clear policy that specifies the types of behaviors that are unacceptable and outlines the steps employees can take to report those behaviors. You can also appoint an internal representative to act as a point of contact for LGBTQ+ employees who experience bullying or harassment.
Implement Non-Discrimination Policies
One of the most important things an employer can do is implement non-discrimination policies that protect LGBTQ+ employees from workplace discrimination. This includes ensuring that all existing policies and practices are gender-neutral and inclusive. Base your hiring, promotion, and other personnel decisions on qualifications rather than on sexual orientation or gender identity. You can also provide LGBTQ+ sensitivity training to all employees to help them understand the nuances of the issue and subtle signs of LGBTQ discrimination.
Use Gender-Neutral Language
The language we use in the workplace can have a significant impact on how comfortable and accepted our LGBTQ+ colleagues feel. For example, using gender-neutral language like “they/them” instead of “he” or “she” can create an environment that’s more inclusive and welcoming. Always use the correct name and pronouns for each employee, even if it differs from what you may assume based on traditional gender norms. Additionally, asking everyone to share their preferred pronouns makes other gender non-conforming people feel safer and less highlighted.
Celebrate LGBTQ+ Diversity
Creating an inclusive workspace for LGBTQ+ employees means celebrating diversity. You can do this by promoting LGBTQ+ holidays, such as Pride Month and Day of Silence, hosting LGBTQ+ events, and recognizing LGBTQ+ employees for their contributions to the company. You can also encourage your employees to participate in events and offer support to LGBTQ+ organizations in your local community. By celebrating diversity in the workplace, you’re sending a clear message that you value and appreciate all employees, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation.
Offer Inclusive Employee Benefits
Make sure that your company policies and employee benefits are inclusive of all individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression. This can include same-sex partner benefits, gender reassignment surgery coverage, and extended parental leave for LGBTQ+ employees. Providing a range of benefits that meet the needs of all employees shows that you value their contributions and are committed to creating an inclusive culture.
Creating an LGBTQ+ inclusive workplace requires more than placards, hashtags, or workplace fliers. It takes conscious effort, commitment, and action, as we’ve discussed in this blog post. By implementing these practical steps, you’ll provide a safe, comfortable, and inclusive workspace where employees can thrive.