As a leading advocate for diversity and inclusion in the workplace, Mission Diverse understands the importance of creating a supportive environment for all employees, including those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT). Managers in any company play a critical role in setting the tone for this type of workplace culture, which includes LGBT inclusion.
However, this does not come without its challenges. This is why we have put together 5 tips for managers to utilise in supporting their LGBT employees.
Raising Employee Awareness about LGBT Inclusion
Offering training on LGBT-related topics, such as transgender-inclusivity, can raise awareness and understanding among all employees. But LGBT inclusion doesn’t stop there – there are numerous other benefits. By creating a more inclusive and supportive culture, employees are more likely to feel valued and respected, leading to increased engagement and productivity.
This can also improve employee retention and attract more diverse talent to your organisation. Companies that prioritise diversity and inclusivity also benefit from a positive reputation among customers and stakeholders and can demonstrate compliance with non-discrimination laws and regulations. By providing LGBT inclusion training, companies can create a more supportive and inclusive workplace, resulting in benefits for both employees and the organisation as a whole.
If budget is a concern, you can explore lower-cost alternatives. For example, you might be able to sign up for LGBT inclusion leadership training, instead of training your entire staff base. Although it won’t have the same large-scale impact, effective inclusive change should always start at the top.
You can also look into alternative resources for greater LGBT inclusion, for example an inclusivity resource pack, which might contain basic tips on inclusive language, reporting discrimination and navigating conversations around LGBT topics. You might find our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Guide useful if you are searching for a quick, low-cost alternative to training.
LGBT Inclusion Means Leading By Example
As a manager, you’ll need to lead by example, as colleagues will often look to you on how to treat LGBT employees. The most effective way to lead by example is by being an ally to LGBT employees, which involves actively supporting and advocating for their rights and equality in the workplace.
LGBT inclusion starts by modelling inclusive behaviour, such as speaking up against incidents of discrimination, educating oneself about the challenges faced by the LGBT community, using inclusive language and being open-minded and empathetic towards the experiences of LGBT individuals.
Make sure you also celebrate and recognise the achievements and contributions of LGBT employees. By taking these steps, managers can help create a more inclusive and supportive workplace for all employees, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Don’t know where to start?
You can sign up for our LGBT e-learning course to gain a better understanding of the experiences of LGBT employees, as well as their rights.
Encouraging employees to be more LGBT-inclusive can be challenging if they don’t initially have the desire to do so, but there are several steps you can take to address this.
Firstly, if an employee expresses resistance to being LGBT-inclusive, take the opportunity to have a respectful and open conversation about the importance of LGBT inclusion, and address any misconceptions or biases they may have.
Secondly, emphasise the business benefits of LGBT inclusion – highlight the positive impact that promoting diversity and inclusion can have on a company’s bottom line, such as increased employee engagement, higher levels of productivity, and improved reputation.
Finally, regularly reinforce the policies and expectations regarding diversity and inclusion, and the potential consequences for not following them, to ensure that all employees are aware of the importance of LGBT inclusion.
Challenge LGBT Discrimination and Encourage Others to Do the Same
As a leader, you must show confidence in challenging discrimination and harassment against LGBT employees, no matter how subtle it might seem.
First, you must ensure that you understand your workplace’s policies and procedures for addressing discrimination. It’s also important to document the incident by noting the date, time, and details including any witnesses.
If you are present for the incident, calmly and respectfully address the behaviour by explaining why it’s not appropriate and how it’s affecting you or others. If the incident is severe or if you don’t feel comfortable confronting the person directly, report it to your supervisor or HR representative.
Be persistent – don’t give up if your concerns aren’t addressed immediately. Follow up with your supervisor or HR representative to ensure that the issue is being addressed and consider filing a formal complaint if necessary. You can also seek external support such as a Mission Diverse Consultant, or reach out to diversity networks and professional organisations for support and advice.
Review and Implement EDI Policy and Procedures
As a manager, you have an opportunity to spot gaps in policy around LGBT inclusion and bring it up with HR. Reviewing company policies and practices to ensure that they are LGBT-inclusive is an important step for creating a supportive workplace for LGBT employees, even if budget is a constraint.
You could start by ensuring that company policies prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, and that these policies are clearly communicated to all employees. You can also review company benefits to ensure that they are inclusive of same-sex partners and/or transgender-inclusive coverage.
Another LGBT inclusion consideration would be to review the dress code to ensure that it is gender-neutral and does not discriminate against transgender employees. It’s also worth checking that company systems and processes allow employees to use their preferred names and pronouns and educate employees on the importance of respecting these.
Finally, are there policy issues that need to be considered to ensure that all employees have access to restrooms that align with their gender identity? It’s important to note, these can be particularly tricky to implement. Check out our blog on LGBT bathroom policy guidelines to get a detailed breakdown on how to go about this.
We recognise that in smaller-sized organisations the HR team might consist of 1 or 2 people and embedding LGBT inclusion practices may be more difficult. If you find that you don’t have enough resources to address gaps in your EDI policy (or you don’t have an EDI policy at all), consider taking on support from an external diversity and inclusion consultant.
It’s worth remembering that reviewing policies is only the first step, as effective implementation is key to ensuring LGBT inclusion is embedded in your work culture long-term. Are you stuck on how to change your policies to be more inclusive? Consider undergoing an EDI Health Check, which can help you identify areas for improvement and provide support with policy implementation.
Effectively implementing LGBT-inclusive policies as a manager involves clear communication of the changes to all employees and providing training on the new policies and how they apply to their work. Ensure that everyone understands the policies and the expectations for compliance.
It is important to demonstrate a commitment to diversity and inclusion, and incorporate the policies into existing systems, such as performance evaluations and disciplinary procedures. Regularly monitor the impact of the policies and seek feedback from employees and stakeholders.
Be prepared to make changes or adjust the policies as needed to ensure they are effective and inclusive. By taking these steps, a manager can help to create a workplace that values and supports diversity in sexual orientation and gender identity.
Make Health Care Considerations
If your organisation offers health care benefits, you might want to consider offering health benefits that are inclusive and meet the specific health needs of LGBTQ individuals. This may include coverage for gender-affirming surgeries or hormone therapy.
It is crucial to make sure that your health benefits package is communicated clearly and effectively to all employees, including those who identify as LGBTQ. If you make any changes to the benefits you offer, ensure that they are aware of these changes as well. Encourage your employees to take advantage of the health benefits that are available to them and provide support and resources if they have questions or concerns about their benefits.
We recognise that offering these kinds of benefits can lead to some pushback from other employees.
Firstly, the cost of offering comprehensive health care benefits, including those for LGBT employees, may be seen as too high.
Additionally, some employees, for example, those with strong religious beliefs, may oppose offering benefits that go against their religious principles. There may also be resistance from employees who hold conservative political views and do not support the LGBT community. Others might also feel that these benefits would provide favourable treatment to LGBT employees. In order to challenge these criticisms, it is important to clearly communicate to all employees why these benefits of LGBT inclusion, and clarify what is being offered and why the company has considered.
If you do not provide health care benefits to your employees, it’s important to note you should still grant requests for sick leave for the purpose of gender reassignment procedures to your LGBT employees, as they have rights when transitioning at work.
LGBT Inclusion Takeaways
It is becoming increasingly clear that having LGBT-inclusive managers in the workplace is important for several reasons.
To start with, it creates more positive outcomes for both individuals and organisations. Additionally, LGBT inclusion is not just a moral obligation, but it is also becoming a legal requirement in many countries, as laws and regulations continue to evolve to protect the rights of LGBT individuals.
By having LGBT-inclusive managers, a company can demonstrate its commitment to diversity and inclusion, and create a workplace that is inclusive, supportive, and respectful for all employees.