June marks Pride Month in the UK and for the first time, census data has revealed than 1.3 million people in England and Wales identify as gay or bisexual. A large percentage of our society identify as members of the LGBTQIA+ community, but there are still some companies that are yet to utilise the incredible skills and creativity of these people. As of 2019, 21% of all LGBTQIA+ Europeans reported experiencing workplace discrimination; that rate jumped to 36% among transgender people. This should not be happening.
Thankfully, many organisations adhere to the Equal Opportunities Policy which states that they will act fairly and equally to everyone regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, disability, marital status, age, etc. This policy is not just to ensure equality (though this is a key part of it), but businesses that follow this will know that it actually helps improve their company as a whole, for the following reasons…
1. Creativity and skills
Diverse environments perpetuate diverse ideas. The more inclusive a workplace, the more innovation and creativity will be produced. People will also feel more comfortable sharing their ideas in a welcoming space, which can result in the production and discussion of better concepts and thus improved work output. This is the same for skills – a range of people bring a range of abilities; therefore, a wider variety of people will widen the company’s skill set.
3. Recruitment boost (talent pool & reputation)
Opening recruitment (and your mind) to communities such as LGBTQIA+ widens your talent pool by over one million people- why wouldn’t you? You will also find more people will want to apply to work for you as company values are crucial for many candidates.
4. Employee wellbeing
People are more likely to be happier and more comfortable at work if they feel represented and included. Employee satisfaction will be higher in a welcoming environment, whereas prejudice divides people.
Speaking of division, it’s not good for productivity and collaborative working. Employees that get on respect each other regardless of differing views/lifestyles. This prevents conflict and heightens productivity.
6. Higher revenues
Research shows that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.
Despite this, unfortunately, 16% of LGB+ workers (and a higher rate of 18% of transgender workers) feel psychologically unsafe in their workplaces. “This suggests that organisations’ handling of conflict and harassment must improve, and employers must develop a greater understanding of the specific experiences – and needs – of LGBT+ employees.”
Over three-quarters of LGBTQIA+ youth say they “know things will get better”, but really, they should already be better…
How can employers be more inclusive?
Gender neutral jobs
When you are hiring, try not to have a specific gender in mind as this just fuels inequality and prejudice. Using they/them pronouns on job specifications to include all genders will attract more applicants, and won’t rule out those who are suited, but who aren’t your ‘perceived’ candidate.
Establish structured LGBTQ+ support
Designate an LGBTQIA+ community member or ally to be a point of contact for any issues/to represent the community. You can also partner with specific workplace inclusion programmes who will lend support to those workers who need/want it.
Put it into policy
Share your Equal Opportunities Policy clearly on your website and on any other documentation that you feel needs it.
Show your PRIDE!
Post about the LGBTQIA+ community on your social media, support staff who identify as members, and share your pride with the world- support doesn’t mean much if you don’t show it!
Take the steps to educate your staff on your Equal Opportunities Policy and ensure that all employees conduct themselves in accordance with this.
There is no place for discrimination in any form, this Pride Month, or any other month. “The only time you should ever look down on someone is when you are helping them up”.