Every single employee should be able to thrive with authenticity in the workplace. Yet, more than a third of LGBT staff have hidden that they are a member of this community due to fear of discrimination.
Fortunately, employers are waking up to the fact that for their businesses and their people to succeed, their employees need to feel confident and safe to be themselves at work. There is still a way to go to ensure every company from family-run independents to global conglomerates is truly inclusive. But regardless of the size of the business or the sector it’s in, there are straightforward steps that all employers can take to support LGBTQ+ employees.
Pride Month, which takes place every year in June, is a great opportunity for employees to demonstrate their allyship. It also offers a platform for employers to implement change, incorporate new policies and introduce benefits. However, being a supportive LGBTQ+ employer is about more than using a temporary rainbow logo. It’s about fostering a culture that is based on respect, education and embracing diversity.
In this article, we explore how companies can support LGBTQ+ employees during Pride Month, with suggestions for how this support can be extended beyond June and adopted into everyday workplace practices.
Organise inclusivity training
LGBTQ+ inclusion in the workplace requires all employees to develop a welcoming environment. But surveys have shown that 74% of employees say their line managers are given no training on the inclusion of LGBTQ+ workers. Organising inclusivity training for all employees can help educate your team and reduce the likelihood of discrimination, misgendering, and hurtful narratives, whether deliberate or accidental.
Inclusivity training can take many formats such as workshops, seminars, and interactive e-learning. And many LGBTQ+ advocates specialise in delivering such training in workplaces. As there is always something new to learn when it comes to LGBTQ+ allyship, training can be incorporated into annual activities to ensure all employees have up-to-date information.
Use the correct pronouns
Asking people for their pronouns should be commonplace but it has still not been adopted by all businesses. This can lead to uncomfortable situations for transgender and non-binary employees and being misgendered can cause unnecessary trauma.
Use Pride Month as an opportunity to encourage employees to add their pronouns to their email signature and introduce themselves with phrases such as “Hi, my name is Dylan. I’m the Production Manager, and I use they/them pronouns”.
To further this inclusivity, you can add pronouns to staff name badges and/or ID cards. Furthermore, you can look to incorporate pronouns into marketing materials such as testimonials, culture videos and onboarding content.
Embrace gender-neutral language
Receiving an email addressed to ladies and gentlemen can make LGBTQ+ employees feel invalidated and unseen considering not all people will identify with such labels. And similarly, being faced with male and female toilets can be traumatic when an employee’s gender doesn’t lie within a binary.
Pride Month can be the ideal time to drop gendered language and spaces in the workplace and empower LGBTQ+ employees. When addressing your team use terminology such as ‘everyone’ and ‘folk’ instead of ‘guys’ and when describing roles opt for ‘salesperson’ as opposed to ‘salesmen’ and ‘saleswomen’.
Use it as a springboard to review all your current literature and communications. Moving forward, create an SOP which establishes guidelines for company wide language choices.
Learn about Pride Month
The majority of people will know that Pride Month takes place but not everyone will know why it is celebrated. For example, a study in the USA revealed that 34% of Americans say they know nothing about Pride Month.
Therefore, it is beneficial to facilitate employee learning about it. You could have someone come to the office to talk about the Stonewall riots, for example, or provide reading materials about what Pride Month stands for. Throughout the year, you can further employee knowledge and understanding by signposting employees to international news about LGBTQ+ matters.
Set up an LGBTQ+ staff network group
LGBTQ+ employee network groups can provide invaluable peer-to-peer support whilst also raising awareness of LGBTQ+ inclusion and give employees a place to contribute to conversation, grow as individuals and learn together.
A networking group can also enable LGBTQ+ voices to be heard, especially when it comes to company culture. It can give employees a way to express concerns, provide feedback on company policies and processes and suggest improvements.
Before making any decisions about a staff network group, you should engage with LGBTQ+ employees to gauge interest and use anonymous surveys and focus groups to consult staff on how the group should be run and what objectives it will have. Targets can be set quarterly or annually, for example, giving the group a straightforward way to become a fully integrated and pivotal component of the business.
Raise money for LGBTQ+ charities
There are still many LGBTQ+ causes in need of help. Raising money for charities and other organisations that work with LGBTQ+ individuals is a great way to show your support to LGBTQ+ employees and the wider community. There are many ways to fundraise, and you can get all employees involved in putting forward ideas. You could do an office bake sale, have a dress-down day at work or organise a Pride-themed quiz night, for example.
After Pride Month has ended, you can continue to support LGBTQ+ causes by raising money. Perhaps you can ask employees to pick a charity to support each month or organise additional fundraisers such as sponsored walks or a silent auction.
Evaluate policies, standards and benefits
It’s hard to be an LGBTQ+ inclusive employer if your policies, standards, and benefits are outdated. During Pride Month, you can seek opinions and feedback from employees about how you can improve equality, diversity, and inclusion through how you operate and what you provide employees with.
For example, you should make sure that your parental leave policies cover all types of families and don’t just refer to heterosexual couples. Or if you have a uniform policy, it needs to cater to all employees which could mean changing stipulations such as ‘all females must wear skirts and all men must wear trousers’.
LQBTQ+ inclusive employee benefits are also incredibly important. So, when it comes to health benefits, you can ensure that they cover gender-affirming care, for example, and that LGBTQ+ employees can access specialised mental health services.
LGBTQ+ fertility benefits for companies also need to be considered. Fertility benefits encompass benefits related to family planning, which is an aspect of life that LGBTQ+ individuals often face barriers to. Including LGBTQ+ employees within your fertility benefits ensure that they are afforded the same opportunities to expand their family regardless of gender or sexual orientation.At Apryl, we can support employers in executing inclusive employee benefits in the form of fertility benefits. We help you to connect your employees with fertility experts and clinics, enabling them to access individualised, high-quality treatment. If you’d like to find out more about how you can support and empower LGBTQ+ employees with their family planning, take a look at how our fertility benefits for companies work today.