Creating a safe, inclusive environment for all LGBTQ+ employees benefits both your workforce and your organization. Recent studies show that firms with highly inclusive, LGBT-friendly policies often enjoy higher profitability as well as higher stock market valuations. As Forbes points out, “a diverse workforce and management that promotes LGBTQ+-friendly policies may also improve competitiveness in the job market by fostering a company’s ability to attract, recruit and retain the most talented employees.” Here are some ideas to help you get started:
1. Offer LGBTQ+-Friendly Benefits Healthcare coverage, retirement benefits, and employee leave that meet the needs of same-sex partners and spouses, as well as transgender-inclusive healthcare coverage, can confirm your support of the community. Develop a bias-free hiring process, as well as specific and enforceable non-discrimination policies outlining your company’s position on LGBTQ+ rights.
2. Develop Support Programs and Networks Create company resource and networking groups with executive sponsorship and funding. Include allies and establish a safe space for employees to come together and share experiences with the goal of creating positive change.
3. Listen and Adapt Companies that successfully support LGBTQ+ rights listen to the needs of their employees and develop policies and practices that are constantly evolving.
4. Foster a Gender-Inclusive Environment Cultural and structural changes can demonstrate your commitment to acceptance, safety, and support. Encourage — and normalize — a culture of shared pronouns. Have discussions with employees of various identities and expressions about what would help them feel more included.
5. Take LGBTQ+ Discrimination Seriously Nearly half of the LGBTQ+ population in the US lives in a state that doesn’t prohibit employment discrimination because of sexual orientation and gender identity. Designate a confidential ombudsman to investigate complaints and advocate for parity in the workplace.
These steps are just a starting point — and by no means an exhaustive list. Each organization is at a different place when it comes to a truly inclusive and LGBTQ+ friendly environment. The most important thing is to assess where you’re at and take the necessary steps to improve — and that you continue improving all year long, not just during Pride Month.
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