How LGBTQ+ Senior Leaders Address the Community Global Challenges

Research findings indicate that nearly 20% of LGBTQ+ employees have frequently encountered hostility in their workplace. In today’s global expansion plans of companies, it is crucial to acknowledge that contemporary consumers and workers strive for diversity and inclusion in both products and careers.

To cultivate a more favorable work environment, organizations should extend their efforts beyond mere public statements of support for LGBTQ+ concerns. Specifically, in the context of the world and the workplace, LGBTQ+ senior leaders, diversity managers, and HR professionals ought to consider a few actionable steps to ensure that their organizations provide a safe and welcoming space for LGBTQ+ employees.

What Are the Challenges Faced by LGBTQ+ Employees?

  • LGBTQ+ Recruitment

Research by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation had key findings highlighting that one in five LGBTQ+ Americans had faced discrimination at the time of applying for jobs. Moreover, approximately 59% of them expressed that they could access fewer employment opportunities because of their sexual orientation or gender.

A similar situation was identified in a study that highlighted that nearly 18% of LGBTQ+ people looking for work faced discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity while applying for a job.

Surveys and studies consistently reveal that LGBTQ+ individuals often face obstacles when seeking employment due to concerns about their voice not aligning with employer expectations. This issue becomes particularly problematic during telephone interviews, which are commonly used as an initial screening process. It is crucial for hiring teams to be trained to prioritize educational qualifications and professional experience rather than focusing on how candidates sound, unless it directly relates to the job requirements.

The lack of sensitivity training for employers perpetuates bias and unjust recruitment practices. However, it is essential for companies to recognize that LGBTQ+ individuals are ultimately ordinary people seeking happiness, who should be able to express their true selves both in the workplace and beyond.

  • Discrimination and Violence in the Workplace

Hustling through the recruitment barrier is certainly not the only challenge faced by LGBTQ+ individuals. Unfortunately, LGBTQ+ people are often victims of physical and verbal violence and harassment in the workplace.

According to Stonewall’s report, nearly 18% of LGBTQ+ people have reported experiencing negative remarks and abusive comments or conduct from their colleagues. A few of them were also physically assaulted by colleagues or even customers. What’s more worrying is that many of these incidents go unreported to higher management, concealing the severity of the incidents and their affect on the victims.

Employers must be aware that physical violence, deliberately misgendering, and bullying of LGBTQ+ co-workers are unacceptable actions on and off the job.

  • Remaining in the Closet

Discrimination and violence can have a pervasive impact on organizations, even affecting the pay and promotion opportunities of LGBTQ+ employees. In response, many individuals within the LGBTQ+ community feel compelled to conceal their sexual orientation or gender identity in the workplace. Shockingly, a survey conducted in 2020 by McKinsey and The Alliance found that 18% of LGBTQ+ employees were not open about their identity at work, and this number increased to a staggering 78% at junior levels.

This practice of hiding one’s identity in the workplace takes a toll on individuals, leading to heightened stress, anxiety, and other mental health challenges. A comprehensive survey examining the impact of LGBTQ+ inclusive work environments revealed that employees who conceal their identity experience mental health issues, which subsequently affect their overall well-being and work performance.

However, creating an LGBTQ+ inclusive work culture has transformative benefits for both employees and the company as a whole. It reduces stress, improves the health and job satisfaction of LGBTQ+ employees, and fosters stronger relationships between co-workers and supervisors.

Why is LGBTQ+ Inclusion Important in the Workplace?

A U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation report highlighted that companies with LGBTQ-inclusive policies experience greater employee retention and engagement rates than their non-inclusive counterparts.

A company that demonstrates and exercises its support for creating an inclusive environment for employees irrespective of their gender, sexuality, or ethnicity stands to benefit hugely, both financially and strategically. One, this fosters a sense of empowerment among employees, leading to boosted morale and engagement. Second, these companies can set an industry standard that paves the way for societal change and drives a positive impact.

Studies also suggest that companies can see their stock performance rise by 6.5% by adopting inclusion-supportive policies. These companies can also create and strengthen partnerships with community organizations and employee groups. With diverse ideas being shared, teams solve problems faster and more efficiently. This helps companies outperform their competitors.

A well-managed, diverse, and inclusive workforce will reduce costs and generate greater profit. The fact is supported by a McKinsey report on workplace diversity that indicates companies employing a diverse workforce boast 35% higher financial returns than national averages. It exemplifies the pivotal role diversity and inclusion in the workplace play for a company’s culture and bottom line.

Talent Management

How to Create a Welcoming LGBTQ+ Inclusive Work Environment?

LGBTQ+ senior leaders and business role models are crucial in showcasing the presence of the LGBT community in business. However, there are still companies that avoid addressing LGBTQ+ issues, treating it as a sensitive topic.

Businesses must strive for greater representation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer individuals. This includes fostering support from straight allies who are vocal about their support for the community. To create a truly inclusive company, it is not enough to simply avoid discrimination. It requires acknowledging that diversity can be a catalyst for growth.

As the consumer base expands and cultural boundaries blur, the competition for talent becomes increasingly fierce. To stay ahead, companies must commit to diversity and inclusion. This should extend to every facet of the organization and ultimately influence society as a whole.

The solutions can be as simple as fostering open-mindedness and responsible leadership. Management should clearly communicate their stance against workplace discrimination, thereby making a strong statement. Additional initiatives may include:

  • Educating and Training Managers

Education is key. Managing diversity and inclusion in any workplace requires special skills and knowledge. Communication, conflict management, cultural intelligence, and problem-solving are all needed to bring diverse groups together and strengthen their interpersonal relationships. It would be wrong to assume that managers possess all these skills or are aware of them.

Hence, diversity and inclusion training can help managers understand the importance of DE&I practices and the legal implications in cases of violation. This can further help them eliminate the risks of bias during recruitment processes, performance evaluation, and training and development processes.

  • Creating a Gender-Neutral Workspace

Establishing a gender-neutral workspace is a proactive approach to addressing LGBTQ challenges in the workplace. It involves creating an environment that is inclusive and supportive of individuals irrespective of their gender identity or sexual orientation. This initiative aims to overcome hurdles faced by LGBTQ employees by implementing measures such as gender-neutral restroom facilities, promoting inclusive dress codes, and fostering an overall culture of acceptance and equality within the workplace. The goal is to eliminate discrimination and create a more diverse and welcoming atmosphere for everyone, irrespective of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

  • Using Inclusive Terms at the Workplace

Utilizing inclusive terms in the workplace is a pivotal step towards fostering a more equitable and respectful environment. This practice involves using language that embraces diversity, avoids stereotypes, and acknowledges the various identities present among employees.

Inclusive terms contribute to a workplace culture where individuals feel seen, heard, and respected, regardless of their background, gender, race, or other characteristics. By incorporating inclusive language into communication, organizations promote a sense of belonging and unity, fostering an atmosphere that values diversity and supports the well-being of all employees. 

This proactive approach to language usage is a key component in building a workplace that celebrates differences and promotes a more inclusive and harmonious professional community.

  • Other Initiatives

Other key initiatives companies can take include:

  • Tax equalization
  • Same-sex benefits coverage
  • Reimbursement of fertility treatment
  • Allowing all employees to take family leave irrespective of their sexuality or gender identity.
  • Supporting Pride Month celebrations
  • Inviting speakers to share their stories
  • Encouraging LGBTQ staff members to attend local community networking activities

There are endless possibilities for businesses looking to promote diversity and inclusion. While immediate change may not be feasible, taking action and monitoring the outcomes will show progress. Companies must proactively demonstrate their commitment to LGBT inclusion and diversity. Assessing the impact further conveys the company’s dedication to improvement and increasing LGBT representation.

Summing Up

Inclusivity in the workplace fosters a sense of faith and loyalty among employees. As the world embarks on the path to becoming more diverse, it is important that organizations recognize and address the challenges faced by LGBTQ+ employees to foster an environment of genuine support and acceptance. This commitment extends beyond public gestures, necessitating concrete actions and initiatives to create a welcoming space for individuals of all sexual orientations and gender identities.

Engagedly assists organizations wishing to leap in the right direction by presenting an all-in-one HR solution. The leading software solution company in the HR industry allows businesses to have a fair and streamlined process for recruitment and onboarding, performance evaluation, payroll processing, and much more, helping organizations support and promote workplace inclusion. Schedule a demo today!

Learning and Development

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How does a diverse and inclusive workplace bolster productivity and efficiency?

A diverse and inclusive workplace enhances productivity and efficiency by fostering a culture of innovation, creativity, and collaboration. Diverse teams bring together a range of perspectives, skills, and experiences, leading to more comprehensive problem-solving and decision-making. 

2. How can integrating automated HR software help companies promote workplace inclusion?

Automated HR solutions offer a fair and transparent medium for employers to streamline their HR processes. For example, performance review software can help organizations mitigate bias in the evaluation process by examining employee performance based on their contribution to business objectives, not gender identity.

3. How do DEI initiatives affect the bottom line of the organization?

DEI initiatives positively impact the bottom line by enhancing employee engagement, reducing turnover costs, attracting diverse talent, fostering innovation, and appealing to a broader customer base, ultimately contributing to increased profitability and long-term success.

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