Beyond Non-Discriminatory Hiring: Creating an LGBTQ-Inclusive Workplace 7 months ago

We’re thrilled that Amsterdam Pride is taking place this week! Its motto is: “Pride = Protest. Remember the past. Create the Future.” For many, this might not make sense. But the motto is emphasizing the fact that Pride events started as a protest during the Stonewall Riots of 1969 in New York City. This makes 2019 the golden jubilee of the first Pride! And while there’s a lot to celebrate, there’s a long way to go for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBT Q) progression movement. As a boss, business owner, or employee, there’s quite a bit you can do to be inclusive and show support to your employees of this community. Support applies whether or not they’re necessarily openly-expressive of this aspect of their identity.

Why You Should Care

An inclusive work environment is vital for the success of its constituents and the professional space at large. This is because individuals are more motivated and engaged with their surroundings when they feel safe and cared for! It might sound intuitive, and some might believe that inclusion is done simply by non-discriminatory hiring. But the truth goes beyond this perspective. In a world where minorities are constantly targeted and scrutinized, and endure unique hurdles to obtain success, people belonging to these communities develop doubts and insecurities that are not left at the door when they enter the workplace. This is even more pronounced if the person identifies (or is identified) with an intersection of targeted identities.

How To Make The Workplace More Inclusive?

1) Ensure Equitable Policies

Depending on where you are, sexual orientation and gender identity might be protected classes under the law. However, this is still not true for most of the world. Even in places where it is true, discrimination occurs before, during, and after recruitment – as it largely remains culturally-normalized.

You can take the wheel of progress by putting your support to work. If you offer benefits such as health insurance, check that your insurance policy itself is inclusive of LGBTQ-specific concerns, particularly transgender healthcare. And if it covers partners or families, choose one that does not discriminate. Some companies, like EY, ensure spousal-equivalence recognition of LGBTQ domestic partners – this is crucial in countries where same-sex marriage is still not recognized. So, we encourage you to look at your existing policies and see how you can make them more equitable.

2) Express and Reiterate your Support for the Community

Support and allyship are not implied, they are stated outright and acted on. This is particularly vital if you have privileges that are not afforded to members of the LGTBQ community – such as that of speaking up safely. It is important for your employees to know that you have their back – whether or not they’ve asked for this support.

It is also important to let everyone know that workplace discrimination or harrasment will not be tolerated. We still navigate a world where many harbor resentment for the LGTBQ community, and the professional realm is not immune to these mentalities. Because these ideologies tend to be silent, they often manifest themselves in other ways – such as the retainment of opportunities, or passive behavioral discriminitation. Thus, it is important to continually reiterate support – to make people feel appreciated, and to deter any possible negative consequences. It doesn’t have to be a grandiose event, but a simple message or gesture that conveys a reminder that LGBTQ people are not alone can do the trick.

3) Educate Yourself and the Workspace on the Community

The LGBTQ community extends far beyond Pride events. Some in the community also do not identify with these events or with the mainstream narrative of the movement – as it can very easily essentialize the individuals within it, many of whom do not share the popularly-expressed rhetoric.