Why is LGBTQ+ inclusion important in the workplace?

Diversity and inclusion is a priority for organisations of all sizes throughout the UK as it ensures that everybody feels safe and valued at work. Individuals who fall under the LGBTQ+ umbrella are very much part of the agenda.

LGBTQ+ is a term that refers to a range of sexualities and gender identities and inclusion policies make it safe for people to be open about their sexuality within the workplace, without fear of recrimination, bullying, teasing or unfair treatment, etc.

However, there is still a long way to go. According to a report by Deloittes last year, half of LGBTQ+ staff members in the UK don’t feel comfortable being open about their sexuality at work. And 1 in 5 said they were thinking of leaving their jobs because of a lack of LGBTQ+ inclusion.

Jackie Henry, managing partner for people and purpose at Deloittes, said: “Organisations still need to do more to provide a safe environment in which LGBQT+ employers feel able to be themselves at work.”

43% of LGBQT+ workers fear discrimination

Among those surveyed by Deloittes, 43% feared they would be treated differently if their colleagues knew about their sexuality and four out of 10 had experienced forms of bullying, such as unwanted comments, jokes or being undermined. Half said they were certain these behaviours were due to their sexuality.

What does LGBQT+ inclusivity mean for your business?

When you are vocal about your LGBQT+ workplace policies and ensure they are fully implemented and not just used for PR purposes, you ensure that LGBQT+ staff members feel comfortable, enabling them to be their best at work. It will increase staff retention and allow you to attract high calibre workers who have a strong diversity and inclusion ethos.

It also tells the world that your business cares about people and in 2024 that matters. Authenticity is key in the modern world and showing that you’re serious about diversity and not just paying lip service to LGBQT+ workplace inclusion, says a lot about your brand values.

When it comes to job searches, three quarters of LGBTQ+ workers actively seek out diverse organisations and 66% pay heed to the commitment to LGBQT+ inclusion. They are also attracted by organisations that employ LGBQT+ leaders.

A diverse workforce improves performance

A survey by Forbes found that a diverse workforce leads to a 60% improvement in productivity and an 87% increase in better decisions.

A robust diversity and inclusion policy that encompasses LGBQT+ staff members, gives organisations a better insight into their customer base. It also means that they benefit from a bigger pool of ideas, information and skills.

Implementing an LGBQT+ inclusion policy

For an LGBQT+ policy to drive change, it needs to be properly implemented. A first step is to take a close look at current policies, their strengths and their weaknesses. Obstacles should be removed and areas for improvement need to be highlighted.

The following measures should then be taken:

  • Standardise recruitment – it’s important that you provide equal opportunities, and this means that your recruitment processes must be unbiased. Also consider positioning LGBQT+ people in hiring roles and using external recruitment companies that have the infrastructure in place to attract diverse applicants.
  • Educate across the board – education is vital when it comes to inclusivity and all staff should be trained to ensure there is no unconscious bias in the organisation. Also make it clear what unacceptable behaviours are, i.e. teasing, bullying, etc.
  • Support – make sure all your LGBQT+ staff feel fully supported and listened to if they encounter prejudice.
  • Run an LGBQT+ diversity report and publish it – be open about our LGBQT+ policies and goals and don’t be shy about highlighting weaknesses which you are pledging to tackle.

Trans and non-binary workers face the biggest challenges

In 2023, the TUC published a study into LGBQT+ inclusion and found that trans and non-binary staff face the biggest challenges in the workplace. Many said they felt that trans inclusion was actually going backwards, rather than progressing.

It was found that those who had been bullied or discriminated against, didn’t feel able to complain to their managers and felt that workplace culture wasn’t improving fast enough.

The TUC concluded that it is vital for organisations and unions to focus on creating inclusive cultures at work and that managers need to actively lay down behavioural expectations for everyone and ensure that bullying and discrimination is not tolerated. Such measures will ultimately not only benefit staff, they’ll also have a positive impact on customers and wider culture.

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