Pride at Work – creating an inclusive work environment
June is Pride Month; a time of year where LGBTQI+ people and their allies march across the world in celebration and protest. This year will be a little different, due to the coronavirus pandemic, many gatherings will be cancelled. However, it is still vital that we take time to celebrate and see what change we can make in the world. A good place to start can be within our own communities and workplaces.
LGBTQI+ inclusion in the workplace is quickly becoming a priority for organisations across the UK. Studies are showing that having robust inclusion strategies in place makes sense from a business standpoint as well as a moral one. The study ‘LGBT 2020 – LGBT Diversity Show Me the Business Case’ found that the US economy could save 9 billion dollars every year if this issue is addressed effectively, not only are customers likely to boycott businesses where discrimination is made public but money can be saved as employees will feel safe, less stressed and more productive.
Between February and April 2017, 5,375 LGBTQI+ people across England, Scotland and Wales completed an online questionnaire about their life in Britain today. Decades on from the first Pride march this study revealed troubling discrimination happening in workplaces across the country.
Anyone can experience a mental health problem. But those who identify as LGBTIQ+ are more likely to develop problems such as; low self-esteem, depression, social anxiety, self-harm and suicidal feelings. Being LGBTQI+ does not cause these problems but experiencing homophobia, biphobia and transphobia, stigma and discrimination, difficult experiences coming out, social isolation and rejection all impact on mental health and wellbeing.
While serving a customer at work I corrected them on pronouns and they laughed in my face and asked me if I had a penis and told me I was wrong. My supervisor witnessed the whole thing and told me not to be so dramatic about it.
As we can see many LGBTQI+ staff experience derogatory remarks from colleagues and customers, are physically assaulted, are actively excluded by their peers and denied work or promotion because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. There is clearly still much to be done to improve this in the workplace.
What can I do as an Employer?
Develop clear policies
Develop zero tolerance policies on homophobic, bi-phobic and transphobic discrimination and harassment.
Actively communicate equality policies to all staff and ensure that the process for reporting concerns and bullying is clearly outlined.
Support staff through training
Implement diversity and inclusion training; this should include what anti-LGBT discrimination or abuse might look like, why it is bad for business and how to challenge anti-LGBT attitudes among colleagues.
Equip line managers with appropriate training and support to confidently take a zero-tolerance approach to all homophobic, biphobic and transphobic abuse in the workplace.
Improve Trans inclusion
Run awareness raising sessions for all employees on Trans inclusion, along with guidance about using pronouns and facilities.
Develop a policy to support Trans employees who are transitioning, including information on confidentiality, dress codes and using facilities, with related guidance for line managers.
Recruit and promote diverse candidates
Include statements and examples of your commitment to LGBTQI+ staff, equality and inclusion on your website. When advertising job roles, make sure that a commitment to diversity and inclusion in your workplace is clearly communicated.
Develop clear policies around recruitment and promotion. Train those recruiting to understand where discrimination against LGBTQI+ staff can occur in the recruitment process and how they can take steps to reduce bias.
Monitor staff diversity
Collect diversity data on the workforce across pay and grade to identify any areas of discrimination in career progression based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Collect diversity data in any exit process and ensure employees leaving the organisation have the space to raise LGBTQI+ related issues.
Staff involved in all diversity monitoring should have specific LGBTQI+ awareness training when collecting, analysing and reporting results.
Take time to assess the organisation’s progress on LGBTQI+ equality and commitment to improving the experiences of LGBTQI+ staff. (Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index is a free benchmarking tool).
Support visible LGBTQI+ role models
Encourage and support the formation of an LGBTQI+ network group, so that LGBTQI+ employees have visible role models and peers. In smaller organisations employers should assist LGBTQI+ staff in joining an external network.
Support staff members who have multiple protected characteristics (for example, are both LGBTQI+ and black, Asian or minority ethnic) by facilitating collaboration between different network groups.
Support events like Pride and LGBT History Month and display LGBTQI+ friendly posters to show customers their business supports equality.
Support the wellbeing of the workforce
Ensure that wellbeing support for staff is available and widely published. Ensure that there is appropriate support for all staff; and signposting options to specific networks and groups that may be of interest.
What can I do in my organisation?
- Work with businesses in your local community.
- Let local business owners know if you witness an anti-LGBT incident from staff or customers so that they can tackle it.
- Encourage your own employer to be LGBTQI+ inclusive.
- Feedback to your employer if current policies are not LGBTQI+ inclusive.
- Report any discrimination, harassment or abuse of LGBTQI+ staff in your workplace (from either customers or other members of staff) to your employer.
- Work with others in your workplace to set up an LGBTQI+ network group if one does not already exist.
- Join or work with your workplace’s trade union or staff consultative group and encourage them to provide feedback on LGBTQI+ inclusion to senior leaders.
Celebrating Pride, LGBT History Month, or Trans Day of Visibility can be a great opportunity to invite conversations and start to understand the experience of your LGBTQI+ workforce; it can be a first step to show your support to this community and communicate that you are committed to creating an inclusive environment for all.
If you are part of the LGBTQI+ community in Hertfordshire and would like support with your wellbeing or are looking to connect with others, you can join the Mind in Mid Herts LGBTQ+ peer support group by contacting: [email protected]
Statistics and recommendations are from the Stonewall’s LGBT in Britain – Work Report
Posted on: 15th June 2020