Pride and Beyond: Being an LGBTQ+ Friendly Employer

Each June, the LGBTQ+ community across the globe celebrates Pride, a recognition of how far equal rights have come and a celebration of individuality, friendship, and love that has no boundaries. As the world takes further steps towards becoming a better and more inclusive place, we ask the question – what can be done by employers to ensure their LGBTQ+ staff feel included, safe and valued?

Why is change needed?

Members of the LGBTQ+ community are proven to suffer high rates of discrimination and harassment in the workplace. A Trades Union Congress (TUC) nationwide survey conducted in 2019 revealed that 68% of LGBTQ+ individuals had suffered sexual harassment at work, with 42% being on the receiving end of unwarranted comments from colleagues regarding their sex lives. Furthermore, a study by Stonewall showed that one in three LGBTQ+ people are not out in the workplace for fear of discrimination, and one in five have been the target of negative comments. The problem even extends to wages – YouGov discovered a 16% pay gap between LGBTQ+ workers and their straight colleagues.

This needs to change. Legislation like the Equality Act 2010 was passed with the intentions of protecting minorities and preventing bullying and harassment, but it takes a conscious effort from individual organisations to make a real difference.

What can employers do?

  • Consider implementing an LGBTQ+ policy. It has been proven that companies with LGBTQ+ policies perform better than those without. It’s an important measure to help protect vulnerable staff members – you can include your stance on LGBTQ+ discrimination within your equality and diversity policy, or you can separate it. Having this policy in place shows that you are committed to tackling the problem.
  • Be inclusive. LGBTQ+ staff members can feel excluded from policies on adoption, parental leave, and pensions – be careful about using gendered language and referring to heterosexual partnerships as the ‘norm’. If you can, think about making your workplace gender neutral.
  • Celebrate with the community. Mark Pride month, support local LGBTQ+ groups and initiatives, and make information about resources easily accessible to your workforce. Discussions around the LGBTQ+ community will be normalised and employees under that umbrella may feel more comfortable in their working environment.
  • Hold equality and diversity training. Staff should be able to recognise what is considered as discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community, and managers should know how to handle any situations related to discrimination that arise in the workplace.
  • Support your transgender employees. Trans people experience a unique set of difficulties while navigating the workplace. As an employer, making any adjustments easier for them – considering their requests for time off, giving them access to appropriate facilities, etc. - will foster a good relationship.
  • Develop an LGBTQ+ network or support group. It is always a comfort to spend time with colleagues with similar experiences; giving your LGBTQ+ employees a safe space to convene and interact is a great way to show support.
  • Be proud. Don’t be afraid to be an open ally of the community. Everyone makes mistakes and it can be difficult to adapt to different perspectives, but we all have room to grow and learn. A small effort to educate yourself can go a long way.

If you would like any information about creating an LGBTQ+ policy, or if you have any other HR-related queries, get in touch with us today at [email protected].