Everyone deserves to be themselves at work.
Over the years, businesses and employers have made huge strides in creating an inclusive workplace for everyone. And thankfully, we’ve seen some significant improvements for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual employees.
You might be familiar with the acronym for this group, LGBTQIA+. ‘Queer’ has also shifted from an insult to an accepted and inclusive umbrella term (when used appropriately).
But the fight isn’t over yet. There’s a long way to go before we have truly safe and inclusive work environments for everyone. Let’s take a look at where we’re at today…
Evidence consistently shows that mental health problems, discrimination, and suicide rates are much higher in the LGBTQIA+ community than for cis-gendered heterosexuals.
And recent research further highlights the discrimination that queer people face at work:
Anglia Ruskin University found that gay and lesbian job seekers were 5% less likely to be offered a job interview than heterosexual applicants with comparable skills and experience.
Research by Accenture showed that only 31% of LGBT employees are fully open about their gender identity or sexual orientation in the workplace. A further 57% felt that this had slowed their professional progress at work.
Shocking, isn’t it? But don’t worry, there are things you can do to help…
An employer’s duty of care to employees
As an employer, you have a duty of care to your workforce. You’re responsible for supporting their physical health & safety and their mental health and wellbeing.
And supporting your staff’s mental wellbeing includes providing the right support for your queer employees.
It’s important to make sure we all keep pushing for equality, especially if you’re an employer. And to help, we’ve put together five practical steps you can take as an employer to support LGBTQIA+ employees in your business.
5 ways to create a more inclusive workplace:
1. Run educational events and diversity training
Make sure you have strong inclusion policies and strategies for supporting LGBTQIA+ employees. Then, communicate these to all staff—including managers and senior staff—through educational events and diversity training.
2. Highlight your zero tolerance to discrimination
Make staff aware that formal disciplinary procedures will be followed if any discrimination towards an LGBTQIA+ employee is brought to your attention.
3. Make an effort to use gender-neutral language
Let’s say in a meeting you explain a hypothetical scenario and automatically refer to the customer as ‘he’. Or a female employee gets engaged and you mention her ‘husband-to-be’, assuming she’ll be marrying a man...
You might not be deliberately discriminating, but using gender-neutral language like ‘they’ or ‘partner’ avoids any gender bias. A gender-neutral working environment harms no one and helps a lot of people feel safe.
4. Create an internal LGBTQIA+ support network
Lots of companies are establishing internal groups of colleagues who want to come together to support LGBTQIA+ rights, operating a bit like a union.
A group like this could help your staff feel like they have a professional space to voice ideas for positive change or challenge hate in the workplace.
5. Stand strong with your local LGBT community
Looking for sponsorship opportunities at local LGBTQIA+ events is a great way for your company to openly support the queer community. But you should look for ways your employees can come together and get involved, too.
You could organise independent fundraising events, or create opportunities for staff to volunteer at events like Pride. Or, you could support your workforce in attending these events socially.
Bright Wellbeing & Counselling
Another great way to support all your employees’ mental health and wellbeing is to use an employee assistance programme, like Bright Wellbeing & Counselling.
It gives staff access to a range of services to support their mental health and wellbeing. That includes a 24/7 helpline, so they can get confidential and compassionate advice and support at any time, day or night.
Of course, your people are your priority—but don’t forget that offering the appropriate support to LGBTQIA+ employees can also benefit your business. How?
Because supporting the queer community helps you to recruit and retain top talent, and happier and healthier employees tend to be more productive, too.
To find out more about Bright Wellbeing & Counselling and how it helps support you and your staff, speak to one of our friendly experts today on 1800 279 841.