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Sex and Sexual Orientation: Promoting LGBTQ+ Inclusivity and Combating Discrimination

Given that June is Pride Month, we’re taking a look at the relevant protected characteristic under the Equality Act’s protection: sex and sexual orientation. You’d think what a person does in privacy would have no bearing on work life, and it doesn’t but people like to make it the case that it is. Therefore, it’s important to create an inclusive and non-discriminatory workplace environment for all employees, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

There is rampant discrimination against LGBTQ+ people in professional settings throughout the country, and it’s not in the interest of the employer or employee for that to be the case. For one thing, regulations are in place to ensure that that isn’t the case. Read on to see how you can create a better environment for your LGBTQ+ employees.

Fostering an Inclusive Culture

The first step to welcoming LGBTQ+ employees is to ensure that you are creating a welcoming work environment. The role of leadership is important in setting the tone for an inclusive organizational culture that values diversity and respect in order to make LGBTQ+ employees feel supported and comfortable. It might be helpful to create safe spaces for LGBTQ+ employees such as employee resource groups, and ally programs, and implement some inclusive policies.

Training and Awareness

Creating an inclusive work environment for LGBTQ+ employees starts with training and awareness. Regular diversity and inclusion training programs will help to educate employees on LGBTQ+ issues and promote understanding and acceptance, which in turn will allow LGBTQ+ employees to work better as relevant issues are handled better, whether it is modern family affecting work hours or health issues affecting sick days, etc. Employees should encourage open dialogue and provide resources for allies to learn how to be better supporters of their LGBTQ+ colleagues.

Policies and Practices

It’s important to review and update your company policies, as time goes on and this particular social issue evolves. Take a look at your non-discrimination, equal employment opportunity, and dress code policies, to ensure they are LGBTQ+ inclusive. Also, keep up to date with regulations in case there are any changes that need to be implemented.

You might want to also take a look at the benefits offered to your employees, including equal access to healthcare and parental leave for LGBTQ+ employees and their families.

Addressing Discrimination and Harassment

Discrimination is not only the main hurdle facing LGBTQ+ employees, but it’s ongoing still to this day. It’s important to have clear reporting mechanisms and procedures in place for addressing incidents of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation against LGBTQ+ employees.

As a leader or manager, you should make a habit of swiftly and effectively addressing any reported instances of discrimination or harassment. Treat every complaint with respect and take it seriously. If you have the policies in place, dealing with it should be pretty straightforward.

Why bother?

It benefits both the employee and the employer to create an inclusive environment for LGBTQ+ employees. Employees at inclusive workplaces report higher job satisfaction and are more likely to remain loyal to their employers long-term. That, and retaining quality talent by treating them with respect, will lower costly employee turnover.

Additionally, it’s important to have a diverse team to drive innovation. Different viewpoints from different people of diverse backgrounds will create opportunities for innovation in any industry and sector.

Conclusion

LGBTQ+ inclusivity ensures benefits like attracting and retaining top talent, fostering innovation, and promoting a positive company culture. It’s important to encourage leadership within your organizations to continuously evaluate and improve their efforts to create a truly inclusive and welcoming environment for all employees, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.