- In the U.S., about two in five LGBTQ+ employees claimed to have experienced unfair treatment at work at some point in their life
- Creating an inclusive and diverse workplace involves education and training for managers and employees
- Building and maintaining a supportive culture will help to create a comfortable and welcoming organization
LGBTQ+ is an abbreviation for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or anyone who doesn’t identify as heterosexual. According to a 2022 Gallup survey, about 7.1% of Amercians identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community, double from a 2012 Gallup survey.
American companies hold a great deal of power when it comes to shaping public opinion and supporting LGBTQ+ employee well-being. In the U.S., about two in five LGBTQ+ employees claimed to have experienced unfair treatment at work at some point in their life. A third of that survey claimed the unfair treatment happening within the last five years.
It is important that organizations are focused on creating an inclusive workplace in order to enhance employee engagement and create a sense of belonging.
How can you create a more inclusive workplace?
Educate Yourself and Encourage Education in your Office
The first step to creating an inclusive and diverse workplace is through education and training for yourself and your employees. It is important for those who support the LGBTQ+ community to know what it means to be an ally, as well as the correct and respectful terminology to use in the workplace.
Start with doing simple research of appropriate terminology. Consume LGBTQ+ media, especially that from the perspective of an LGBTQ+ community member. Learning what it is like to walk in their shoes is a great step to becoming a supportive ally. Other steps to take in educating yourself include:
- Reading books regarding different gender identities
- Listen to LGBTQ-centered podcasts
- Watch any popular movies or TV shows that discuss gender identities
- Research the history of Pride month
- Read about the culture and the significance behind Pride month
Over time, these resources will help you better understand and appreciate the LGBTQ+ community. Encourage this education throughout your workplace as well. Offer helpful resources, books, podcasts, movies, and hold open discussions with your employees.
Create an Inclusive Environment
Offering a welcoming and diverse environment for your employees will ensure that everyone is comfortable in the workplace, increasing employee satisfaction. This includes in your job description, hiring processes, and your overall reputation.
Start with the language in your job description. Be sure to use short and simple sentences that emphasize inclusivity. Make sure you utilize diverse hiring teams by ensuring at least two people on your interview panel are of an unrepresented group. Finally, add inclusion to your company values. Publicizing your efforts in creating an inclusive workplace through your company website or social media platforms will not only attract more diverse applicants but it will also show support for your current employees.
Build a Supportive Culture
Supporting LGBTQ+ employees in the workplace through building and maintaining a supportive culture will help create a comfortable and welcoming organization. This entails being respectful, listening to your employees, and being a vocal and active ally. Create a safe culture in your workplace for everyone by paying attention to your language when addressing your employees or new applicants. Other ways to create a supportive culture in your workplace include:
- Creating a strong inclusion policy
- Creating supportive programs for LGBTQ+ employees
- Offering LGBTQ+ friendly benefits
- Creating an LGBTQ+ network
- Communicating and engaging with all of your employees
Don’t Make Assumptions
Even if you think that you can tell who in your office identifies as heterosexual and who does not, it is important to keep that to yourself. If you hear someone talking about their relationship or you see an engagement ring on someone’s finger, make sure you ask about it in a respectful manner. Rather than saying, “How did you meet him?”, ask “How did you meet your partner?”. Phrasing a question in a non-assuming way will make everyone in the conversation feel comfortable.
Don’t be Afraid of Mistakes
Working in an LGBTQ+ friendly work environment doesn’t mean that everyone is always going to get it right. Making a mistake happens and it is okay, as long as you are making an effort. Understanding the history of the LGBTQ+ community as well as using inclusive language is something you may have to adjust to, and it’s okay to make mistakes throughout the process.
It’s important to be respectful of everyone in your workplace, and educating yourself and your team about diversity and inclusion in the workplace will help to make a better space for everyone. To learn more about how to support the LGBTQ+ community, check out this great list of resources.