June is officially recognized as the Pride Month across the globe when the LGBTQ+ community is celebrated more than ever. There has been a gradual, yet significant change in people’s attitudes towards the community, whether it is on social media platforms or in universities or even in homes. But one place that needs to work harder to build an LGBTQ inclusive environment is the office space.
There are many employees who have coveted their sexual orientations and identities from the fear of not being promoted, not treated with dignity or being mocked. In India, it is common to hear homophobic slurs and comments everywhere and even in the workspace. This is not only mentally and emotionally taxing but can reduce an employee’s productivity and even lead to them resigning.
It is a myth that building an LGBTQ inclusive workspace is challenging and cumbersome. Both in logistics and human attitudes, it is important and quite easy when you inculcate a system of respect for every gender and identity.
So, keep reading to find out the 5 ways how you can build an equal workspace that is inclusive of the LGBTQ+ community.
1. Inclusive Policies
Any major change can be brought about when it is enforced officially by the company. As a leader, you must set and enforce anti-discrimination policies that demand respect for LGBT employees and celebrate diversity at the workplace.
Simply setting policies is not enough, taking robust actions in case someone violates the rights of an employee, is equally important. If there are any allegations of harassment and discrimination, it is paramount that a company deals with it seriously.
Moreover, a leader should create an environment where homophobia and bullying on the basis of sexual orientation are not entertained.
2. Diversity Training
Our education system has failed us by not teaching us systematically about the LGBTQ community. But you can change that in the office. Some employees may be uncomfortable with homosexuals in the office, and may not be sensitive towards them. Other employees may not completely understand the LGBTQ+ as an umbrella community. By providing training to existing employees and new ones during orientation, you can de-stigmatize the entire fiasco and generate acceptance amongst employees.
People often overlook company policies, but they can never ignore training. In the diversity training, you can include modules on sexual orientation and gender identity. You can also speak about the onus that lies in enforcing and maintaining the rights of this community.
Hire an Inclusivity Specialist who can conduct workshops from time to time. This will help you build an LGBTQ+ inclusive workspace.
3. Shift In Hiring Strategies
This is important because all the aforementioned ways allow you to maintain an inclusive workplace, but if your hiring strategies are discriminatory, then you are prohibiting people from joining in the first place.
When you are publishing ads, make an extra effort to promote equality and send out a message that you are not prejudiced against any gender, caste, sexual orientation, religion, etc.
You can partner with LGBTQ employee networks and even NGOs that will help you create a brand image of inclusivity and equality.
As a leader, you must ensure that the interviews and other recruitment processes are free of bias and if any employee is exhibiting inappropriate behaviour, they should be held accountable.
4. Equal Benefits
You can create an equal workplace by enforcing equal benefits for all. Mega companies such as Apple and Johnson & Johnson provide their employees with inclusive benefits such as fertility treatments, adoption, and surrogacy for same-sex couples.
Your health insurance or life insurance should cover benefits for the LGBT community and you can also include medical benefits for transgender people.
Equal benefits will go a long way in ensuring a friendly and LGBTQ+ inclusive workspace.
5. Participate In Events
Showing that you believe in an equal work environment comes in more forms than just making your profile pictures go rainbow during June. Participate in local pride events and pride marches as a company to show true solidarity to the community.
You can celebrate your own LGBTQ Day in the office and talk about the community in mails and workshops from time to time.
You can also have a small rainbow flag set up on the reception desk to show solidarity and inclusivity. Building an LGBT inclusive workspace should not be just a June errand, it should be a year-round effort to increase awareness and sensitivity.
As we have seen, building an LGBTQ+ inclusive workspace is simple, effective, and really important. Apart from all these, make sure that you create a safe space for your employees to come out of their closets or even to speak up against biases.