In recent years, there has been significant progress made towards the equality and inclusion of the LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) and gender-expansive community. But there is so much more to be done when ensuring LGBTQ-inclusive policies and practices in the workplace.
Almost half of LGBTQ+ employees remain closeted at work for fear of making others feel uncomfortable, potentially losing friendships with coworkers or losing their job. LGBTQ+ people face discrimination because of their sexual orientation or gender identity in and outside the workplace every day. Organizations of all kinds need to not only address workplace discrimination but make it top priority to embrace their LGBTQ+ and gender-expansive employees by providing an inclusive, safe environment. Below are tips your organization should be taking right now!
WHAT IS GENDER-EXPANSIVE?
’m glad you asked! PFLAG, an LGBTQ+ website for allies, describes gender-expansive as, “An umbrella term sometimes used to describe people that expand notions of gender expression and identity beyond what is perceived as the expected gender norms for their society or context.” While the social norm is to identify either woman or man, some individuals identify as a combination of woman/man and some individuals identify as neither. In the workplace, using preferred pronouns is important when being addressed as she/her/hers, he/him/his, they/them/theirs, or more formally as Ms., Mr., or Mx.
THE BENEFITS OF A SAFE, INCLUSIVE ENVIRONMENT
When an employee doesn’t feel comfortable in their work environment, they won’t give 100% of their effort. By taking steps to be a more inclusive culture, employees will be more comfortable with who they are in the workplace and their performance will improve, therefore the business will absolutely benefit. Secondly, the unemployment rate is at an all-time low, which means employee retention is just as important as competitive recruiting. Salary is no longer the most important factor for a candidate who is actively looking for a job or one who is considering a change. According to an
article posted by BuiltIn, 47% of people who are actively looking for a new job say their company culture is the driving force and 15% say a company’s culture was the reason they turned an offer down.
HERE ARE STEPS YOU CAN TAKE TO BECOME A MORE INCLUSIVE WORKPLACE
● BECOME AN ALLY: Open the dialogue and create an environment where all employees feel represented and safe. Implement company anti-discrimination policies that include sexual orientation and gender identity, provide workplace trainings, form LGBTQ+ ally support groups and listen to your LGBTQ+ employees.
● CLARIFY YOUR MISSION: Organizations typically have a section on their website that addresses their vision, mission or values. This is a great place to incorporate the company’s support for LGBTQ+ employees. This will positively impact current and prospective LGBTQ+ employees, as well as potential consumers/clients.
● EXPAND TO INCLUSIVE BENEFITS: Take a look at the current benefits packages for your employees and see what other inclusive options are available for instance, health insurance and healthcare benefits for same-sex spouses and domestic partners and adoption assistance.
● CORRECT PRONOUNS: Start by encouraging employees who desire to do so, to add their preferred pronouns to their email signature or business cards. This helps other employees respectfully and appropriately use the pronoun their coworker identifies. It also makes a clear statement to potential new-hires, clients, and consumers that LGBTQ+ and gender-expansive individuals are welcome and supported.
● GET INVOLVED: There are LGBTQ+ organizations everywhere! Sponsor, donate or volunteer at an LGBTQ+ non-profit organization. June is pride month, get your organization involved in events or campaigns. From a recruitment standpoint, seek opportunities to attend LGBTQ+ job fairs.
The examples above are just a few of the steps your organization can take to promote and ensure an inclusive work environment. It’s 2020 and NO employee should ever feel like they are being discriminated against. By developing a clear mission for supporting the LGBTQ+ community and fostering a gender-neutral environment, you will create an inclusive workplace for your current and future employees.
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