In light of this year’s Pride Month, several people all over the world have expressed their advocacies for the LGBTQ+ community in many ways. Some celebrate the event through graphic design, poetry, talks, webinars, and all other possible creative platforms to promote inclusivity and acceptance. The same degree of passion for these values can definitely extend to professional settings, such as the workplace. With this all said, it’s imperative for employers to have their own ways to partake in such celebration.
Why LGBTQ+ inclusion in the workplace is important
1. The LGBTQ+ discrimination problem
Even outside the workplace, LGBTQ+ people face discrimination in different ways. Some of them may be culpable of a crime upon evidence showing that they’re in a same-sex relationship. Moreover, the mere identification of a person as gay is a ground for punishment in around 70 member states in the UN, with said punishment taking in different forms such as imprisonment or even death. The experiences of the 3 billion people who suffer such discrimination across the globe amplify the call for accountable authorities to do better in making inclusive policies for the LGBTQ+ community, and for society to veer away from further cultivating the already existent and recurrent stigma against the LGBTQ+.
II. Echoing the same problem in the workplace context
Partially due to the lack of legal protection offered to LGBTQ+ employees in more than half the number of countries in the world, the same sorts of discrimination on a larger scale carry over to smaller institutions. As a result, employees belonging to the community has experienced discrimination upon recruitment, dismissal, and promotion. Workplace harassment has also been an unfortunate reality for LGBTQ+ employees.
Arising from the stigma and discrimination that have been systemically woven into the daily life of the people in the community, some employees have felt the need to conceal their identity to avoid the implications of such discrimination. This has resulted in increased levels of stress and anxiety, leaving these employees with decreased levels of innovation, productivity, and empowerment.
III. Lack of support for inclusive practices and initiatives in the workplace
Notwithstanding the apparent problems the LGBTQ+ employees experience, some professionals from Human Resources do not see why there is a need to revisit company policies and revise them. In other words, some cannot comprehend the essence of including provisions on addressing LGBTQ+ issues and problems in the workplace. In this light, employers themselves must have the initiative to take action and be more conscious of the surrounding realities that their LGBTQ+ employees experience, and hopefully act upon them through setting the right policies to prevent further discrimination. This is especially in light of the fact that legal protection for LGBTQ+ employees is insufficient to fully provide care and support for them.
Taking into consideration all aforementioned gaps relating to the experiences of LGBTQ+ employees, it is then important for companies to act upon these gaps and formulate strategic solutions to create safer spaces for the community.
How to act upon the problems of LGBTQ+ discrimination in the workplace
I. Remind employees and management to use the right pronouns.
A part of the provisions that companies can include in their policy is establishing what terminologies are right and wrong to use when referring to LGBTQ+ employees. This is a simple addition to the company’s policies that can make a big difference. Making the appropriate pronouns for the LGBTQ+ employees helps cultivate the value of respect for their identity, and may help contribute to gradually achieving a respectful and inclusive culture in the workplace.
II. Create avenues for educating employees LGBTQ+ issues.
These avenues may take place through training programs that have the goal of instilling equality and diversity in the workplace. Such reminds employees of the different inclusivity policies implemented in the company, and measures to which extent employees truly know and understand the purpose in implementing such policies. Through these open avenues for learning, training, and discourse, the company may also keep track of the progress its workforce has made with regard to their inclusivity and diversity goals.
III. Celebrate LGBTQ+ events.
Another simple initiative that can help foster inclusivity in the workplace is marking different LGBTQ+ events on the company calendar. Reminding employees that Pride Month or LGBT History Month is coming up soon would do well in raising LGBTQ+ awareness in the workplace. Apart from this simple calendar addition, your company may also opt to have celebratory initiatives for these events, that may serve as avenues for strengthening member relations within the company as well.
Indeed, progress has been made in the LGBTQ+ community. However, given that issues still arise and increase today, much is to be done for further improvement. Notable is the fact that much of the workforce will be made up of the Gen-Z and Millennial employees soon, who are passionate about inclusivity and safe work spaces. This may result in more promising progress for the years to come. In the meantime, one important takeaway may be noted by companies and their leaders today:
In light of this year’s Pride Month, it is important to celebrate not only the event, but the entire community — regardless of the time of the year.