According to the Center for American Progress, in a survey conducted in 2022, “LGBTQI+ individuals continue to experience significantly higher rates of discrimination than non-LGBTQI+ individuals.” No one should experience any kind of discrimination or be worried that expressing who they are could lead to unfair treatment, especially at work. Lead by example and create a supportive environment for everyone, including your LGBTQIA+ employees.
As we celebrate Pride Month, remember that LGBTQIA+ employees should feel supported every month of the year. One survey showed that 1 in 4 LGBTQ employees has experienced employment discrimination in the last five years and 46% of LGBTQ employees in the U.S. remain closeted at work. Your LGBTQIA+ employees want to be themselves and being in an environment that allows them to do so, without negative judgment, will help them feel safe.
7 Ways to Create an Inclusive Workplace for Your LGBTQIA+ Employees
As you strive to make your company more inclusive, here are some steps you can take to ensure the workplace is a supportive place for all employees.
1. Don’t make assumptions
When getting to know your coworkers, don’t immediately jump to conclusions or assume you know who they are. If the subject of personal lives comes up at work, allow employees to share what they feel comfortable sharing, without forcing a discussion or pressing them with potentially uncomfortable questions. Remember that everyone has varying comfort levels when it comes to sharing personal information. Creating an open, non-judgmental environment is key for LGBTQIA+ individuals to feel safe and confident in the workplace.
2. Educate your team
93% of Fortune 500 companies have non-discrimination policies that cover sexual orientation; and 91% have non-discrimination policies that include gender identity. Your workplace includes people from diverse backgrounds. Use this as an opportunity to educate your team and learn about everyone’s experiences. When you are surrounded by diversity you can learn from different perspectives. This is the best way to be open and understand where your colleagues come from and how better you can support them.
3. Create a community
Nobody likes to feel alone. Consider creating a network of LGBTQIA+ individuals and allies in the organization that provides support and resources. A company-wide initiative to create a safe space will further your organization’s inclusive culture. And sense of belonging, which further enhances employee morale and engagement.
4. Participate in events
To further show your support, encourage employees to attend events, marches, and volunteer opportunities in support of the LGBTQIA+ community. While June is Pride Month, support can be shown all year round. Your organization’s support of these events and support of employee participation shows your LGBTQIA+ employees that they matter and that your organization is committed to help make a positive difference in society.
5. Respect pronouns
The LGTBQIA+ community deals with confusion and bias every day, which can be especially stressful at the workplace. If you’re not sure about how an individual prefers to be referred to, simply ask. If you make a mistake and are corrected, make the effort to use the right pronouns when addressing someone. Help your coworkers by sharing the right pronouns with each other and don’t be afraid to correct someone politely when they are wrong. This will help your LGBTQIA+ coworkers feel supported and heard.
6. Encourage allyship
Bouncing off our last point, remember that it’s okay to respectfully correct your coworkers and help them understand the LGBTQIA+ community better. Being an ally means standing up for your colleagues or advocating for someone who may be feeling marginalized. Supervisors, managers, leaders and all coworkers can lead by example and show up for their LGBTQIA+ colleagues. Leaders can create networking groups, stand up for their employees, and show empathy and kindness every day.
7. Take time to reflect
Reflecting is an important part of listening and learning. As you show your support, encourage others to educate themselves to further embrace inclusivity in the workplace. Allow for opportunities where your LGBTQIA+ colleagues can share their experiences in a safe zone. Be open to feedback and keep the floor open for respectful questions.
Listen and Continue to Learn
Being open to listening and educating ourselves is the best way to move forward and be powerful allies to foster inclusivity and belonging in the workplace. Remember, supporting the LGBTQIA+ community should be all year round – and not just the month of June!