LBGTQAI+ inclusion in the (pandemic) workplaceFeatured
Looking at any pride parade, with its dozens of big name corporate sponsors, you might think that companies are great places for actual queer/trans folks to work. In truth, companies have a lot of room to grow in the area of queer/trans inclusion. While most business leaders now accept that racial diversity and gender inclusion are good for business, it’s also true that LBGTQAI+ inclusion is not only “the right thing to do,” but it’s also a win-win for the bottom line (Business Success and Growth Through LGBT-Inclusive Culture, 2016). The report highlights: - Queer/trans-friendly companies attract better talent and decrease employee turnover. - 4.5% of the US population identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, so it’s well worth company time to get queer/trans inclusion right (Gallup, 2018).- Employees who are "out" are happier are more productive than those who don't feel safe being open. - Plus, heterosexual colleagues are more productive when working in a work climate where LBGTAI+ colleagues can be "out" (Center for Work-Life Policy, 2011).HR leaders confirm that it's difficult to get a data-backed sense of how many LBGTQ+ people they have in their company (companies often don't ask and queer/trans employees often don't share - mainly for career/safety reasons). However, the few available studies point to an unwelcoming atmosphere. - Nearly 4 of 10 LGBTQ employees say they are not fully "out" at work. 50% fear being “out” would hurt their prospects or cause job loss.(Glassdoor, 2019) - 62% of queer/trans folks have heard anti-lesbian/gay jokes at work, 43% heard anti-bisexual jokes, and 40% anti-transgender jokes. (Catalyst, 2018) - More than half of LGBTQ+ women have experienced workplace sexual harassment, (1.4 times more than straight women and 1.9 times more than LGBTQ+ men).- For my sector, tech: LGBT tech employees are more likely to leave jobs because of bullying than their non-LGBT counterparts in tech. (Kapor, 2017) This is pretty grim proof that the need for LBGTQAI+ advocacy didn’t end with the achievement of marriage equality. The queer/trans community needs companies to step up Beyond participating in pride parades.I have helped dozens of the most innovative, successful (and sometimes a little out-of-touch) tech companies improve on LBGT+ inclusion. Here’s what I've seen the best companies do to recruit, cultivate and retain not only queer/trans employees, but also our increasing numbers of allies who also want to work in the LBGT-inclusive environment of the workplace future. - Set in stone clear policies that outline an inclusive, safe, and welcoming company position on LGBT employees. - Enforce this policy, especially when it’s broken, and build it into performance reviews. (Money means it’s true.) - Reward managers who unapologetically promote diversity, inclusion, and belonging - of all kinds. - Create an anonymous escalation path and an anonymous tip line to legal/HR so that you can surface and address complaints; make sure they’re well known - especially to the Pride and all marginalized communities. - At the leadership level, create reminders for managers so that they know of and acknowledge LBGTQ+ news, holidays and community milestones, like Pride Month. - As a company, offer public support in favor of state and national policies and laws that protect the Pride community. - Fund your employee resource group - and involve them in business critical initiatives - so that their purpose goes well beyond socials/Pride Month and into the realms of recruiting, hiring, promotions, and climate. - Broaden your pipeline to queer/trans industry organizations; make overt efforts to find and welcome LBGTQ+ folks, specifically, throughout the recruitment process (don’t just hope it happens). - Train your recruiters and hiring managers to use inclusive language to include folks with different sexualities, gender identities, gender expressions than their own or than the dominant norm. - Gather data on your company’s queer/trans recruiting, promotion, retention, and experience, however possible; the easiest route is to include a question that allow employees the option to identify as a member of the LGBTQ community on your already-existing enterprise-wide, anonymous employee engagement survey. - Offer training for all employees on being kind to colleagues/clients of all sexual orientations and gender expressions. Including unconscious bias training that is inclusive of LBGTQ+ nonbinary identities.To include and retain trans and nonbinary workers, companies need to put in place additional protections and efforts including: - Provide trans-relevant health insurance plans. - Arrange for gender-neutral bathrooms (if staff are on-site). - Remove any gender-based dress codes. - Define a clear process for trans/nonbinary employees for coming out as nonbinary or transitioning at work. - Train your HR staff and your managers to be ready to help employees navigate any HR/system changes related to gender transitions. - Provide a guide to HR folks and managers to turn to when someone begins such a conversation or comes out to them as trans/nonbinary. - Offer online training for individuals so they can be kind(er) and (more) respectful to colleagues with different gender expressions/pronouns than their own. - Train your managers to shift away from gender-exclusive language (“welcome ladies and gentlemen” or "hey guys") to gender-free language, such as "hello, team" "hi, folks."- Ensure your HR system is flexible and that it allows folks to identify as neither gender in systems (or X), to change their name (as currently done for people who change their last name at marriage), and hide information about previous gender markers/names. - Set a company-wide standards for sharing pronouns (such as "they/them") in introductions, on email signatures, and in zoom meetings. The truth is most LGBT workers report high rates of job-hunting and on-the-job discrimination. Companies that tend to even a few of the above recommendations can become industry leaders in workplace safety and friendliness for the queer/trans/nonbinary community.