Most companies across all sectors have made huge strides in supporting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) employees in the workplace, especially over the past decade.
Stonewall recently released their annual list of the UK’s top 100 LGBT-inclusive employers, which shows which companies are leading the way when it comes to creating a workplace environment that accepts and supports LGBTQ staff. There is still a misconception that not much more needs to be done by employers, given that society has made significant progress towards equality.
Unfortunately, that is not the case, as research carried out by Stonewall revealed that 35% of LGBTQ staff have hidden their identity at work for fear of discrimination. Likewise, 18% admitted that they have experienced discrimination when applying for jobs because of their sexuality. This fear of homophobia, being passed over for promotions and job interviews is still a very real problem for LGBTQ workers.
So what can employers and businesses do to make their workplace more LGBTQ friendly?
Take a clear stance on LGBTQ discrimination
This is possibly the most important factor to include. Employers need to make sure that they establish strong anti-discriminatory policies in every aspect of your company, and ensure that their employees know about them. Your employees need to recognise that there is zero-tolerance for any instances of homophobia related bullying.
Develop support programmes for LGBTQ employees
Employee mentoring, networking groups, conferences and seminars all help in becoming a more inclusive place to work for LGBTQ employees. But most importantly, speak to your staff! They’ll be able to let you know what support structures they want to see. Not only will this improve employee engagement and your company culture, but it’ll also provide valuable insight on ways to further innovate your company.
Support the community
It’s also important to show solidarity with your employees and the wider community. You can provide your LGBTQ employees with information about upcoming events, celebrate National Coming Out Day, and encourage volunteering at LGBTQ charities
In recent years there have been massive strides in supporting the Transgender community, who face a whole new set of challenges. The HR team can play an important part in helping transitioning employees. Train your HR staff to be educated allies, so they are fully able to offer the correct amount of support to your transgender staff.
Offer LGBTQ-friendly benefits
For any job seeker, benefits packages and non-discrimination clauses are some of the most important considerations they look at when searching for a new role. However, it’s very easy for companies to unintentionally exclude LGBTQ workers from these benefits. Employers should look at offering equal benefits, such as parental and adoption leave, to all employees, including LGBTQ staff. Using gendered language can often exclude these employees, so make sure that you use gender-neutral terms in your benefits package.
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