Diverse teams provide a variety of valuable perspectives. Teams composed of people from diverse backgrounds, cultures and experiences are better positioned to solve problems and innovate, so creating an inclusive work environment where all people feel comfortable and safe is key for success.
This includes sexual and gender minorities, or members of the LGBTQ+ community. LGBTQ+ is an acronym that stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning. About 4.5 percent of the overall United States population currently identifies as LGBTQ+, so there’s a chance someone in your company is a member of this marginalized group, although it’s possible they aren’t “out of the closet” at work.
LGBTQ+ discrimination at work
Unfortunately, not all employers go out of their way to embrace diversity, particularly when it comes to LGBTQ+ employees. The following stats illustrate the discrimination LGBTQ+ people face at work:
46 percent of LGBTQ+ employees are not “out” at work
1-in-5 LGBTQ+ workers report being told to dress in more feminine or masculine clothing
53 percent of LGBTQ+ workers say they occasionally hear jokes about gay people at work
31 percent of LGBTQ+ employees report feeling unhappy or depressed at work
59 percent of LGBTQ+ individuals perceive themselves as having fewer employment opportunities and 50 percent said they are paid less than non-LGBTQ+ colleagues
1-in-5 LGBTQ+ people report discrimination because of their sexual orientation or gender identity when applying for jobs, negotiating salary or being considered for promotion
LGBTQ+ people of color are twice as likely as white LGBTQ+ individuals to have been discriminated against when applying for jobs because of their sexual orientation or gender identity
Sadly, LGBTQ+ workers often neglect to report negative comments they hear to a supervisor or human resources representative because they don’t think anything will be done about it, and because they don’t want to damage relationships with coworkers. By intentionally making your workplace more LGBTQ+ inclusive, you can empower your employees to speak up if they hear or witness offensive comments or behavior, or identify opportunities for improvement.
Benefits of a LGBTQ+ friendly workplace
Positioning your workplace as LGBTQ+ friendly can have many benefits, including reducing stress, avoiding turnover and boosting your company’s reputation. By becoming more inclusive and accommodating to LGBTQ+ employees, you can make sure your company is a great place to work for all.
Ideas for an LGBTQ+ inclusive environment at work
Thinking about making your workplace more inclusive of LGBTQ+ people, but aren’t sure where to start? Here are some ways to make your company a more comfortable and safe place to work for LGBTQ+ employees.
1. Ensure your policies are LGBTQ+ inclusive
Review your employee handbook. Are all of your parental leave, adoption, insurance and benefits policies LGBTQ+ inclusive? Specifically calling out policies aimed at LGBTQ+ inclusion shows your commitment to avoiding discrimination.
2. Establish an LGBTQ+ network
A company LGBTQ+ network provides LGBTQ+ employees with a safe space at work to relate to one another. In addition, members of the network can also provide feedback on ongoing inclusion efforts as well as help you identify and improve upon issues that impact LGBTQ+ employees.
3. Educate your employees on LGBTQ+ issues
Knowledge is power. Provide diversity and inclusion training, including LGBTQ+ training, to all of your employees so that they understand the issues their LGBTQ+ colleagues face.
Training can also help clear up misunderstandings and stereotypes and teach non-LGBTQ+ employees how to be supportive in their communication and collaboration with their sexual and gender minority colleagues. You never know who might be LGBTQ+, or have an LGBTQ+ loved one, so it’s always a good idea to be sensitive and respectful of others in general.
4. Encourage pronoun use
Clearly stating pronouns (for example, he/him, she/her, they/them) in email signatures, on social media profiles and in meetings can help normalize not assuming someone’s gender at work. Encouraging everyone to get in the habit of specifying their pronouns regardless of LGBTQ+ status helps transgender and non-binary individuals feel more comfortable stating theirs.
Contact us to learn more about our LGBTQ+ Employee Assistance Programs
As an employer or HR professional, you care about the health and well-being of all your employees. We do, too. Our team builds strong working relationships with our clients to successfully improve employee wellness and address the various areas that can affect employee performance — such as LBGTQ+ inclusion. Our employee assistance programs can be tailored to meet the specific needs of your organization.
Our comprehensive EAP services can decrease absenteeism, reduce turnover and improve work performance by providing the support your staff needs to stay happy, healthy and productive. Reach out to Mazzitti & Sullivan EAP to see how we can help your workplace thrive.