10 Ways to Promote a Culture of Respect and Belonging for LGBTQ+ Employees

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09 June 2021 by ManpowerGroup

​Pride Month is widely recognised as a time to celebrate diversity and inclusion and show allyship to members of the lesbian, gay, bi, trans and queer (LGBTQ+) community. For organisations and businesses around the world, it’s also a reminder that we need to hit the accelerator on making workplaces welcoming for all.

Across the hundreds of thousands of clients ManpowerGroup works with globally, we are helping our partners align their ambitions with clear, actionable plans to hire more inclusively and keep the diverse talent they hire.

Here are ten ways to promote equality and respect within your workplace:

1. Do your research

Start with the United Nations Human Rights Office’s Standards of Conduct. Based on the input of hundreds of companies across diverse sectors, it offers guidance on how to respect and support the rights of LGBTQ+ people in the workplace, marketplace and community.

2. Develop an effective – and global – corporate diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) policy

It is critical that your organisation has a policy in place which articulates your commitments, and which clearly references sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics/intersex status. It should also explain both company and employee responsibilities as well as outline what will happen if the policy is violated. Multinational companies should also have a cohesive global implementation strategy – mindful that concepts of equal rights and fair treatment of LGBTQ+ people may not be well-institutionalised in many markets or regions.

3. Ensure continual buy-in from employees and management, including commitments to take the DEIB strategy forward

Exposing employees to other points of view and perspectives can help expand their soft skills in empathy. Regular trainings on DEIB will ensure employees at all levels are familiar with company policy and considering incentivizing leaders by hard coding their commitments into performance frameworks could lead to greater support and understanding.

4. Technology can help to establish best practices

The DEIB technology now exists to support companies with policies and practices, provide timely analytics, identify and reduce bias, introduce greater transparency and visibility, and support employee training. Download the World Economic Forum’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion 4.0 toolkit to explore all the opportunities and accountabilities now afforded by tech.

5. Create a culture of conscious inclusion

A welcoming workplace is one where people with different demographic and psychological backgrounds feel seen, heard and valued – not by blending in, but by providing a different perspective to reduce the homogeneity of attitudes, values and beliefs. This also keeps groupthink and decision-making biases in check.

If your organisation is serious about allyship and equal opportunity for LGBTQ+ employees, you must go beyond programmes. To truly change culture, take proactive steps to promote a diverse pool of candidates for senior leadership and board positions, and train and incentivise managers and employees on what it means to be inclusive.

6. Appoint leaders with the right characteristics

A change in culture starts from the top. If your organsiation is serious about its DEIB policy, start by building a diverse leadership team within your organisation. Make sure people with higher levels of curiosity, humility and courage are not overlooked. Ideally, you want leaders who demonstrate a passion for learning, humility to admit when they make mistakes and courage to act boldly and speak out against injustices.

7. Build an LGBTQ+ support network

For pro-LGBTQ+ policies to be effective in attracting and retaining LGBTQ+ employees, your company’s efforts should have high visibility. For example, support efforts by LGBTQ+ employees to create their own staff groups and extend the same opportunities to them for extracurricular activities as you would to any other group.

8. Take it to the community

Partnerships with local LGBTQ+ groups, such as youth centres, community centres, advocacy groups and charities exhibit long-term commitment to LGBTQ+ employees. This can also help your company better understand the challenges those employees face, informing your corporate policymaking and providing a way for your company to support positive social change.

9. Listen, apologise and learn from your mistakes

Odds are that mistakes will be made along the way. If someone is the company is called out for a microaggression or an act of exclusion toward an LGBTQ+ colleague or employee, it’s important to respond with compassion, concern and humility. Priority needs to be given to making the other person feel heard, apologising sincerely and not making it about the person at fault.

10. Set targets and track progress

Your company’s key decision-makers should receive regular progress reports on DEIB efforts, including updates on employee experience and engagement levels. Assign a senior-level officer to oversee and direct DEIB initiatives, educating and training. What gets measured gets done.

At ManpowerGroup, we believe businesses have the responsibility to be a positive contributor to societal change. That means intentionally building diverse and inclusive workplaces and hiring the best employees based on talent without discrimination. Not only is this the right thing to do, but studies repeatedly show that inclusive practices have a positive impact on your bottom line.

To learn about the power of language to foster an inclusive workplace, download the LGBTQ+ Inclusive #WordsatWork Guide.