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How to support LGBTQ employees in your workplace

Workplace charity, CIPD has recently released a report that details that, even in the year of 2022, LGBTQ employees are more likely to experience workplace conflict and harassment than their heterosexual and cisgender equivalents. They found that 40% of LGBTQ workers and specifically 55% of trans employees have experienced conflict, which is alarming when compared to 29% of heterosexual cisgender workers. They also found that 18% of LGBTQ employees feel psychologically unsafe in the workplace, which is higher than the 10% from hetero cisgender employees.

These figures aren’t comforting and suggest a need for real change in the workplace. By the looks of it, managers need help in making a hospitable environment for LGBTQ employees. We’re breaking down what needs to be done to make your business a LGBTQ employee-friendly space.

Build an accepting culture for LGBTQ employees

The need for an inclusive environment for LGBTQ workers is obvious. LGBTQ employees need to know that they are safe in their environment, which comes with creating a comfortable and accepting workplace for them, where they are valued and have a voice.

There are a lot of ways to put this into practice, and unfortunately, putting up rainbow bunting isn’t one of them. There is the idea of being supportive if you fancy, but far more important is systemic changes in the workplace.

Targeted inclusion and diversity training

Ongoing inclusion and diversity training is paramount to changing attitudes, but more than that, training should provide understanding of the culture and lifestyle of LGBTQ workers. Training should allow hetero cisgendered employees to understand the difference between sexualities and gender identities and understand that there are things that are brought to the office, like names, and things that aren’t, like what they were doing on their night off.

Training should focus on a few key points, such as line manager and recruiters focused on being aware of biases around LGBTQ employees and working on individual and systemic biases. Meanwhile, senior managers looking to make systemic and process-level changes.

Take it a step further and make efforts to establish relationships within your workforce. Strengthen the ways LGBTQ workers can feel included and support to express their gender identity or sexual orientation. For example, trans workers might have different needs depending on where they are in their trans journey and they should feel safe enough to express them to you, knowing that you will support them.

Action on job quality

On top of higher levels of conflict, LGBTQ employees suffer lower levels of job quality, job satisfaction and workplace relationships. This is individual to the employee, which means talking to your employees to establish what can be improved upon.

Understand the importance of intersectionality going in. The experiences of male and female LGBTQ workers might differ in drastic ways, for example. Focusing on one aspect of their identity might be ignoring another, which can range through gender, sexuality, race, disability, etc.

Understand that wellbeing scores across your LGBTQ employees might be affected my external factors, resulting in mental health issues that may or may not affect their time at work. It’s a case-by-case issue and a matter of offering support, not discipline. The LGBTQ community has mental health issues unique to them that rarely affect work but might affect wellbeing.

Strengthen the action of section 14 of the Equality Act 2010

Policy makers within corporations should strive to strengthen the action of the Equality Act 2010, and, for the sake of their own compliance, company culture, and therefore the sake of their LGBTQ workers, aim to enforce it in everything they do.

The Equality Act of 2010 legally protects workers from discrimination in the workplace and wider society, but section 14 is particularly apt in this instance. Section 14 says that a person cannot discriminate against another due to a combination of characteristics that are protected. These protected characteristics are age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex, or sexual orientation.

This is to protect workers that might feel they are at a particular disadvantage. Being a lesbian black woman, for example, might feel like society is against them on three different levels, which is most obvious to see within the workplace.

A lot of companies only protect for one or two of these characteristics. Strengthen your compliance and the protection of workers by removing the limit of protected characteristics. Develop guidance and toolkits for managers to implement section 14.

Conclusion

Creating a welcoming and supportive work environment takes more than a smiley face when your diverse employees enter the office doors. Systemic discrimination takes systemic action to change. And as noted, as altruistic as creating a safe space for LGBTQ employees is for them, there is also compliance and regulations to consider. There is legislation in place to discourage discrimination and there are resources available if a worker feels they have been mistreated. Offset those feelings with a system that supports them from the start. For more advice get in touch with the team today.