How can employers support LGBTQ+ employees at work?
To help you with ways to support LGBTQ+ employees in the workplace, we asked business professionals and D&I leaders this question for their best tips. From establishing an anti-discrimination policy to educating employees on the importance of using gender pronouns, there are several insights that may help you better support your LGBTQ+ employees.
Here are 8 ways to support LGBTQ+ employees in the workplace:
- Establish an Anti-discrimination Policy
- Support The Employee by Supporting Their Family
- Be Sure to Educate Yourself
- Support The LGBTQ+ Community
- Practice Inclusive Hiring to Support LGBTQ+ Employees
- Celebrate Pride Month
- Prioritize Intersectionality Within Company Initiatives
- Educate Your Employees on Using Gender Pronouns
Establish an Anti-discrimination Policy
Employers can create anti-discrimination policies that explicitly declare zero tolerance for any form of discrimination. This policy should apply across all company activities, including recruitment and promotions. The employer must ensure that all employees know this policy and the consequences of going against it. If an employee breaches the policy, the employer must not shy away from promptly taking action against the offender. Rather than assume that all human staff are unbiased, set laws that make lack of bias compulsory. Business owners should also ensure that employees feel safe when making discriminatory or harassment reports.
John Tian, Mobitrix
Support The Employee by Supporting Their Family
One of the most often overlooked ways to support LGBTQ employees is to include their families in meaningful ways. For example, train yourself and your employees to avoid heteronormative language, like inquiring about a "partner" instead of assuming that a team member is with someone of the opposite sex and asking about a husband/wife or girlfriend/boyfriend. Make sure LGBTQ employees' partners and children are invited and feel welcome at company gatherings. Also, ensure that benefits like health insurance cater to the needs of these individuals, for example, including providers that are LGBTQ-friendly or specialize in the community's special medical needs.
Tasia Duske, Museum Hack
Be Sure to Educate Yourself
Be sure to educate yourself and encourage others to do the same. Consider reading books, watching documentaries or attending seminars that can provide information. You can also support employees by going to rallies and signing petitions that support LGBTQ rights. By educating yourself on the topic, you can improve employee well-being while taking initiative to change.
Corey Ashton Walters, Here
Support The LGBTQ+ Community
One of the best ways you can show support for LGBTQ employees at work is to take the time and the resources to support local LGBTQ organizations and programs. The business community can often be insular, so showing your employees that you are donating to these organizations or offering speakers to share their experiences and knowledge with your peers goes a long way. Encourage volunteering efforts too and organize company outings to LGBTQ events and fundraisers.
Brandon Brown, GRIN
Practice Inclusive Hiring to Support LGBTQ+ Employees
Some people are made uncomfortable by what they don’t know and understand. For this reason, education in the workplace is vital to ensuring that all employees feel comfortable in the workplace. But even more important is the practice of inclusive hiring. Education alone won’t support LGBTQ+ employees as well as education in conjunction with an inclusive hiring process and company culture.
In addition to inclusion helping to ensure that LGBTQ+ employees are comfortable and supported at work, inclusion also benefits the company. This is because inclusive and diverse companies tend to innovate better and they also tend to perform better than their competitors. Inclusion doesn’t just mean hiring at lower levels of the company, however. Decision-making positions, management positions, and higher-level positions need to be inclusive as well.
Dave Rietsema, Matchr
Celebrate Pride Month
Celebrating Pride Month is one-way employers can support LGBTQ employees at work. Beyond simply changing the company logo to rainbow hues for the month of June, organizations can plan thoughtful programming such as playing trivia that highlights LGBTQ history, screening documentaries and films that speak to LGBTQ experiences, and curating care packages made with goodies from LGBTQ small businesses.
Carly Hill, Virtual Holiday Party
Prioritize Intersectionality Within Company Initiatives
Make sure all efforts in updating or introducing new inclusive LGBTQ company initiatives are intersectional. It's essential to remember that LGBTQ people of color can have workplace experiences that are more negative than those of white LGBTQ employees. In what areas? In a research brief written by the What We Know Project at Cornell University, among LGBTQ people surveyed, they found that Black respondents have had their success and work-life balance fostered less extensively, they've had less transparent evaluations, and have been respected less by supervisors in comparison to the answers given by white respondents. As an employer, you can look into these widespread issues as possible areas of improvement. If you'd like more specific information, consider creating a carefully thought out survey where you ask employees what they believe should be done to improve the workplace environment.
Nicole Ostrowska, Zety
Educate Your Employees on Using Gender Pronouns
One of the greatest tips I can give any employer to support LGBTQ employees at work is to educate all your employees on using gender pronouns! Every person who identifies as LGBTQ+ and has a different gender pronoun always runs into the same problem on the daily, people mispronouncing them in any context! This problem can of course be accidental, and most of the time is! However, employers should make it their duty to teach their peers and employees why and how you should pronounce your fellow LGBTQ+ co-workers' gender pronouns! Having gender pronoun educational classes or presentations is a great initiative to support your LGBTQ+ employees in the workplace!
James Burati, 1-800-PackRat
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