One of the main requirements to create a truly inclusive work environment is to have a safe space for all individuals to thrive. This can be created at both the individual and company level. This article focuses on what companies can do to support their LGBTQ+ staff.
As we approach the end of June and the first half of this year, we also approach the end of Pride Month around the world. This is a good time to reflect on the inclusion initiatives and campaigns launched over the past month and the first half of the year in order to plan a more inclusive end of the year and continue the momentum gained during Pride Month. We caught up with Jean Illyria, Growth Manager at Google and one of our panellists from our Inclusive Leadership Forum, to talk more about what companies and individuals can to support their LGBTQ+ staff and colleagues.
- Include a sentence on your website and job descriptions to demonstrate your commitment to inclusion.
For example, your mission and vision could state “we ensure that all our talent, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race, religion etc. is able to thrive in our corporate environment”. All job descriptions could also similarly state “this role is open to all individuals regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race, religion etc.”. This can make diverse candidates who might fear discrimination feel more at ease.
- Ensure you have strong anti-discrimination and harassment policies
This protects all staff in your company regardless of how they are perceived by the rest of the community and provides a safe space within the company. When making any amendments to existing policies or creating new policies, ask for feedback and comments from all employee groups to ensure that you understand how these policies impact and protect all staff as intended.
- Organise mandatory sensitivity training for all staff
In order to create a truly safe and inclusive environment, all staff should receive training to understand how to sensitively work with individuals who are different from them. For LGBTQ+ this training should include subjects like unconscious bias, inclusive behaviours and gender sensitivity.
- Ask new hires during onboarding how you can support them to perform better
Make it a point to ask all new hires whether they have any specific needs and require any additional support to ensure they thrive in your company. This could include discussions about workplace norms and rules such as dress codes, bathrooms etc.
- Support diverse Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)
Provide support for diverse communities to have their own employee resource groups so individuals can network and connect in order to feel supported in the workplace. These ERGs are also a resource for you to tap into when thinking about policy changes. Publicly list the ERGs that you have in the company so potential applicants can see that your company has already created space for diverse communities.
- Have a procedure in place for staff to ask for special provisions if needed
Ensure that staff know how to make requests for any special needs they might have and encourage all staff to state their needs by providing support and understanding to all requests.
- Encourage all staff to introduce themselves with their pronouns
This is particularly useful when hiring so applicants feel comfortable talking about their own gender identities.
- Use preferred names for all non-legal, non-medical activities
While it may be necessary to ask for and use an individual’s legal name for legal or medical purposes, always ask for their preferred name as well and ensure that this is used for their email address and all other communication within the company.
- Provide access to healthcare
If needed, amend company policies to provide employees with medical coverage for transition-related treatments, including mental health support, hormone therapy, or surgeries.
- Re-evaluate policies related to spousal support and parental support
Provide health care benefits to long term partners of employees regardless of marital status and provisions for all caregivers regardless of gender.
In addition to the tips stated above that companies can implement within the workplace, it is also important to recognise the pivotal role that companies play in creating community cultures today. If companies consider reaffirming their commitments to inclusion and equality when visiting recruitment fairs or conducting interviews with the next generation, we might slowly be able to create a society in which all individuals are valued mainly for who they are as people and what they contribute instead of their gender, race, religion or sexuality.