How businesses can become more LGBT+ inclusive

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Within the LGBT+ community, the term “PRIDE” is a cultural notion that represents solidarity, community and identity as well as resistance to prejudice. The accompanying iconography tells others that LGBT+ people are valuable parts of society. It stands as an affirmation of equal rights and a celebration of visibility, dignity and diversity in our society. There is no shortcut you can click to include it. It is an ever-evolving quest for a more inclusive future. Likewise, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to creating an LGBT+ inclusive workplace. Inclusiveness should be seen as a process as well as a goal.

Today, it is not enough to have a written policy in place. Even if a company has internal policies protecting LGBT+ employees, the organization’s culture can prevent people from fully engaging in work. The need of the hour is for companies to move from a focus on mere diversity to true “inclusion”, which requires a deliberate inclusion plan that goes beyond ideas and thoughts to concrete actions.

To encourage LGBTQ+ inclusion, PRIDE aspects inside and outside of companies need to be improved, as follows:

P: Positive equity reinforcement

An inclusive workplace is a workplace where LGBT+ employees feel comfortable going out and expressing themselves. If the workplace is unsafe, coming out can be extremely stressful and painful. An inclusive, safe and supportive work environment would go a long way in encouraging the growth of LGBT+ talent within the organization. DEI policies should be more than just anti-discrimination measures. Policies should ensure the comfort of all employees regardless of sexual orientation, gender, race, etc. Providing mental health care to LGBT+ employees, along with specific benefits that support them and their partners in their efforts to advance the interests of the community is one such step. forward. There are many renowned organizations that have highly inclusive health benefits. These organizations help same-sex couples who want to start a family through fertility treatments, adoption and surrogacy. They also provide accessible treatment for employees who change gender, such as paying for the cost of surgery and hormone replacement medication.

R: Reinventing learning and development (L&D)

Out-of-the-box DEI training solutions are often too broad or general to provide behavioral guidance that applies to all employee groups and work environments. Employees will reject training programs if they feel the information is not relevant to their job profile. Therefore, DEI training should be role-specific and targeted to the behavioral outcomes desired by the company. D&I executives should collaborate with L&D teams to identify the unique DEI training needs of key staff segments, taking into account their prior DEI knowledge and skills, as well as their responsibilities in advancing the DEI strategy. Employee Resource Group (ERG) leaders and recruiters, for example, may have very different diversity training needs depending on their responsibilities in advancing the DEI plan. Recruiters, in this case, will need to learn specialized strategies for overcoming individual management biases, while ERG leaders might benefit more from training in managing cultural change initiatives.

I: Accessibility of infrastructure

Infrastructure is the main step towards building a coherent and inclusive holistic culture. Toilets are a major infrastructural barrier that prevents transgender employees from working. They were discriminated against because they chose to use specific toilets. Organizations that aim to create an inclusive work environment for transgender people should either build gender-neutral toilets or provide transgender people with access to the gender they identify with or separate toilets. Discrimination occurs when the trans community is denied access to the washrooms of the gender they identify with. Additionally, companies should consider the requirements of non-binary staff when designing restrooms.

D: Diversification of perspectives

Unconscious bias training alone is not enough for many companies to minimize bias and create a more inclusive culture. While this type of training can improve employees’ conceptual understanding of bias, it is less successful in helping them avoid bias and adopt inclusive behavior. Organizations should focus on programs that can help employees diversify their current perspectives and behaviors, rather than trying to change employees’ unconscious biases or viewpoints. Expose employees to other viewpoints and points of view to improve their general empathy skills. A welcoming workplace is one in which individuals from diverse demographic and psychological backgrounds feel seen, heard and valued, not by blending in, but by providing a new vantage point to diminish the uniformity of attitudes, values ​​and beliefs.

E: Accept differences

Educating employees and helping them confront their conscious and unconscious biases towards the LGBT+ community sets the stage for an inclusive corporate culture. Companies should guide their employees on how to behave better, especially when dealing with and around LGBT+ colleagues. They need to know what to say and what not to say. Internally, through their DE&I manager, or externally, with the support of specialists, organizations can train their staff. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation provided the teams with the tools to turn basic principles into concrete actions. Company teams adapt behavioral expectations using a simple do’s and don’ts tool to advise employees on high-stakes occasions who are most likely to test their cultural alignment.

In conclusion, this newfound passion has clearly had a positive impact: companies are committed to being safe spaces where employees can be themselves at work without fear of discrimination. Demonstrating adaptability and resilience is no longer limited to the workplace; it also changed the leadership. Management is invited to regularly speak out on the importance of inclusion and diversity in the workplace, in the hope of inspiring all employees.



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Disclaimer

The opinions expressed above are those of the author.



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