Simple Ways To Make Your Workplace More LGBTQ+ Inclusive

By Tina RuhlowLast Updated Jun 8, 2020 6:08:46 PM ET
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There’s a lot of evidence that companies with ethnic and gender diversity are more productive workplaces than workplaces where everyone comes from the same demographics. That also applies to LGBTQ+ workers. While LBGTQ+ people aren’t new, many workplaces are considering their needs for the first time.

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If you need some ideas on how to cultivate a more inclusive environment for people of all sexualities and gender identities — whether in person or remotely — here are some tips for creating a better and more equal workplace.

Train Your Staff on Diversity and Inclusion

A good first step in creating an inclusive office atmosphere is gathering useful resources for your employees. If your training manual is older, you’ll need to update it. Organizations like GLAAD (formerly the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) offer resources that employees can use to educate themselves and that you can use to design company policies and practices.

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Things to consider include gender-neutral dress codes, whether or not your sick leave policies may exclude legitimate reasons for leaving work early or calling in sick and the services covered by any medical insurance you offer, such as gender transition therapies or surgeries. You can even check out example employment policies, such as this one from the Transgender Law Center (TLC).

If you’re not sure how to make these changes, consider hiring an LGBTQ+ equality consulting firm to help. These experts can help you find blind spots in your policies and even train your employees.

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Listen to Your Employees

You should also offer to sit down and listen to the needs and concerns of your LGBTQ+ employees. They can even be involved in training if they wish, but be aware that not every employee will want to be involved, and you shouldn’t press them on the subject. Simply open the opportunity and allow each person to decide for themselves. Don't forget to compensate your employees for any additional work they do.

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Finally, make training clear and manageable. Emails that focus on a single change, for instance, help employees learn about policies without being overwhelmed. Short training sessions held in person or via Zoom can also give employees an interactive way to educate themselves.

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Change the Way You Hire

As you’re looking over your work policies, consider examining your hiring strategies as well. Examine your company’s job advertisements and other materials to see if you’re making any unintended assumptions about your job openings or the people who apply to them. Consider posting on job boards like Pink Jobs and the Transgender Job Bank or sending your hiring team to LGBTQ+ recruitment events.

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You should also make explicit mention of your commitment to an unbiased hiring process and diversity in the workplace. Talk about your company values and LGBTQ-friendly policies to show your commitment to hiring the best applicants regardless of sexuality or gender identity.

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Offer LGBTQ-Friendly Benefits

One often overlooked but crucial equality point for the LGBTQ+ community is equal benefits. It’s vital for the health, safety, and emotional health of your employees to receive equal, fair benefits, no matter their orientation, identification, or relationship status.

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Look over the wording of benefits such as life insurance, health insurance and retirement policies. Make sure that nothing excludes same-sex partners or their children. You also need to make sure the policies provide support for the medical needs of transgender folks. If for some reason, your LGBTQ+ employees have different tax treatment, make sure that their benefits compensate them for those differences.

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Consult your benefits providers to create an equal plan for employees, especially for transgender employees who often face additional challenges in this realm. These plans should cover family members, partners, etc., just as they do for straight couples.

Foster a Gender-Inclusive Environment

Whether a person is LGBTQ+ or not, a person’s gender doesn’t determine whether or not they can do a job well. Because of that, you should cultivate an environment where people of all genders are given the tools they need to succeed without interference from other people’s preconceptions. One way to do this is by offering gender-neutral restrooms. In-stall trash receptacles and sanitary products in all restrooms mean that all people can take care of their needs.

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Another way to foster gender inclusiveness is by having every member of your staff include their pronouns in their email signatures. This not only assists people inside the office and out in understanding how their co-workers self-identify, but it also normalizes the expression of different gender identities.