Ways to Support LGBTQIA Employees During Pride Month and Beyond

With June marking pride month, HR professionals are taking time to review the policies they have in place to support their LGBTQIA staff. Although companies are making great strides in recent years, it’s important through pride month and beyond that we continue to improve and adopt an inclusive culture. We outline some key considerations for companies who want to ensure that they are providing a safe working environment for everyone.

Train both managers and staff in diversity and inclusivity.

In their guide to creating an inclusive workplace, the Equality and Human Rights Commission calls an inclusive and diverse workplace one “where the human rights principles of fairness, respect, equality, dignity and autonomy are promoted and are part of the organisation’s every day goals and behaviour.” The guide outlines first having a plan of what you want to achieve and the benefits of a diverse and inclusive workplace, reviewing areas that need changing and both implementing and monitoring its progress.

Both employees and managers should receive training that makes them aware of the Equality Act, company policies in place, as well as training in unconscious biases. Stonewall produced a guide for managing a diverse workforce that suggests that this training should be offered as a “safe space where managers can ask questions that they might otherwise feel uncomfortable to ask and provide managers with a comprehensive understanding of the behaviours they are expected to uphold across the organisation.”

According to Catalyst, 91% of Fortune 500 companies now have nondiscrimination policies that include sexual orientation, and 83% include gender identity.

Know the law around supporting LGBTQIA staff at work.

Everyone has the right to work in an environment free from discrimination, as outlined under the 2010 Equality Act that sets out to protect from discrimination in the workplace. USDAW outlines the forms this discrimination can take:

  1. Refusal to employ, or decide to dismiss, someone because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
  2. Refusing access to training or promotion because of someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
  3. Denying LGBTQIA workers goods, facilities and services they offer to straight and non-transgender workers.
  4. Giving an unfair reference when someone leaves employment because of being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
  5. Victimising someone by treating them less favourably if they have complained about alleged discrimination or given evidence in such a case.
  6. Discriminate indirectly. This happens when an employer applies a rule or has a policy or a practice that applies to everyone but one group of workers (such as LGBTQIA workers) cannot meet as easily.
35% of surveyed LGBTQIA employees have hidden or disguised that they are LGBTQIA at work in the last year

Although this legislation has been put in place to protect workers, a 2018 report from LGBTQIA organisation Stonewall found that 35% of surveyed LGBTQIA employees have hidden or disguised that they are LGBTQIA at work in the last year because they were afraid of discrimination. In order to prevent workplace discrimination, employers must go beyond the minimum legal standard set by the government to actively add value to the company through their contribution to LGBTQIA employee wellbeing and safety.

As well as knowing your employees’ rights, encourage open discourse and have an open-door policy so that colleagues feel comfortable approaching you or their managers if their rights are being threatened.

Put inclusive policies and benefits in place.

Gender-inclusivity is an important step to take in implementing workplace plans; offer unisex bathroom facilities to employees and use gender-inclusive language on official documentation, such as they/them pronouns, “parent” instead of “mother” or “father” and “spouse” or “partner” instead of “husband” or “wife.”  Offer parental and adaption leave for same-sex or transgender parents in line with what you would offer cisgender or heterosexual parents.

Make resources readily available to your LGBTQIA employees; The Human Rights Campaign has a resources page with useful information and MyGwork is a great LGBTQIA networking site for both LGBTQIA professionals and allies alike. If employees are struggling with their mental health as a result of discrimination or anything else pertaining to their sexuality or gender identity, make them aware of your EAP or refer them to such services as MindLine Trans+ or Mindout.

Do you support your LGBTQIA employees?

There are clear benefits to having an LGBTQIA-inclusive workplace; CIPD has linked inclusive behaviours to “positive team outcomes, reduced absenteeism and enhanced job commitment” as well as “enhanced team knowledge sharing, innovation and creativity.” With a clear and, you’re more likely to retain some of the best professionals in your industry.

Throughout Pride Month and year-round, YuLife supports both your employees and our own LGBTQIA employees’ wellbeing.

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Sophie Hibbert

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