3 Ways to Build an Inclusive Workplace for LGBTQ Employees

It is already a fact that diverse organisations outperform less-inclusive competitors in employee satisfaction, revenue, and overall profits. As society becomes more and more inclusive and open to different gender and sexual orientations, employers have to keep up with this pace and ensure that their workplace culture embraces diversity and equality. Although hiring individuals from different backgrounds may sound like a great aim, maintaining workplace diversity isn’t sustainable without creating a culture of inclusion at work.

This article will present you with 5 ways in which employees can create a workplace culture of inclusion for the LGBTQ community.

Why is having an inclusive workplace culture important?

There is no doubt that diversity makes a workforce stronger. Employees coming together from different backgrounds can contribute with creativity and innovation, thus building a stronger company culture. For instance, women of colour are entering the workforce in greater numbers than ever before, bringing education, ambition, and diverse ideas and experiences with them. As a result, they offer corporations a potent force of insight and innovation that will be increasingly needed to meet the needs of a diverse customer base.

Working in a diverse workforce increases employee satisfaction and retention and attracts better talent in the long term. Companies that succeed in making their employees feel valued and included are more innovative and creative at problem-solving.

However, despite many organisations’ attempts to create an inclusive workplace, the LGBTQ community is still not fully integrated into the standard workplace culture.

In 2018, Human Rights Campaign issued its A Workplace Divided report, which included these sobering realities:

  • 46% of LGBTQ workers say they are closeted at work;
  • one in five LGBTQ workers report having been told or had co-workers imply that they should dress in a more feminine or masculine manner;
  • 53% of LGBTQ workers report hearing jokes about lesbian or gay people at least once in a while; and
  • 31% of LGBTQ workers say they have felt unhappy or depressed at work.

A recent study from the HRC Foundation found that a quarter of LGBTQ employees reported feeling distracted from their tasks when working in an unwelcome environment and 20% would stay home from work altogether to avoid the negativity. Additionally, 13% of the surveyed group would not report a discrimination complaint because of the fear of being fired.

Creating an inclusive workplace for LGBTQ employees

Many organizations wonder how to create an environment where LGBTQ employees feel safe to be their authentic selves. While good intentions are always there, this process is not that simple in practice. It requires intentional, thoughtful action to architect an environment that celebrates all your employees for all that they are. Here are a few tangible steps you can take today:


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1. Set up a non-discrimination-policy

Without clear guidance on how you want to include the LGBTQ community, your team will not know how to approach this aspect. Policies that formulate the inclusion of LGBTQ employees are a great way to start. Be specific in how you expect your employees and management to treat each other and have a system in place that gives the option to file an anonymous complaint. In case you receive complaints about certain discriminative behaviours, make sure they are thoroughly investigated and appropriate actions are taken.

Similarly, aim to maintain transparency about discrimination incidents. This will help employees feel safe in reporting future ones. Communicate to the workforce how they are handled and what actions are taken to prevent this in the future. A safe environment is a transparent one.

2. Train your leaders in diversity and inclusion

Although many people have the intention to welcome everyone despite their orientation and gender, there are times when they do not know how to adequately approach this. Learning experiences that expose them to new ideas and expanded ways of thinking are essential to creating a safe space for all of your employees. A way in which companies can create an LGBTQ inclusive work environment is by training their leaders and managers on diversity and inclusion.

This is an essential aspect because leaders are responsible for modelling the right behaviour and approach towards LGBTQ employees. As an employer, it is your responsibility to ensure that the leaders and managers in your organisation have the tools they need to promote inclusive behaviours in the workplace, and spread awareness and education about the LGBTQ community.

3. Encourage your workforce to analyse their biases

Everyone has internal biases about race, gender, and sexual orientation. These are oftentimes implicit and stem from the culture we grew up in. These biases reflect in the behaviours and attitudes we have toward those who have a different background than us.

In the workplace context, analysing one’s biases and internal prejudices should be part of any employee’s personal and professional development.

Some questions you can encourage your employees to reflect on are:

  • What are your assumptions about the people around you?
  • Do you assume that straight is the default?
  • Or that LGBTQ people behave and dress in specific ways?

At the first glance, many employees will assume they are open-minded and inclusive enough. But when digging deeper into their assumptions, they might find that they hold prejudices that influence their choices of people around them or their overall perception of LGBTQ employees.

Therapy for a more inclusive workplace

If you’re aiming to build a more inclusive workplace, don’t forget that therapy is one of the best personal development tools you can offer your employees. With the help of a trained therapist, your team can analyse the biases that hold them back from creating an inclusive and diverse workplace. SupportRoom offers on-demand therapy for your workplace team and aims to increase the overall well-being and productivity in your workplace.

Similarly, you can find out how included and valued your LGBTQ employees feel by taking wellbeing surveys. With Heartbeat, you can analyse your team’s job satisfaction and well-being in the workplace. Heartbeat is a simple and straightforward data analytics tool you can use to improve inclusion and diversity in your workplace.

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