What is LGBTQIA+ inclusion?
LGBTQIA+ Inclusion in the Workplace means you’ve created a space where your LGBTQIA+ team can feel safe to bring their full selves to work.
This doesn’t mean all LGBTQIA+ employees will choose to share their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression with the team — nor should you expect that. Put simply, inclusion means you’re not creating an environment that excludes team members. That includes offering the same opportunities to all team members; using language that doesn’t favor one particular gender or identity; and adopting a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to disrespecting languages and behaviors.
Why is LGBTQIA+ inclusion important?
You cannot have an inclusive workplace unless everyone at your company feels safe and supported to be their full and authentic selves. LGBTQIA+ team members may choose not to come out at work, especially in environments that don’t actively practice inclusion, because of worries about safety, bullying, job loss, and the fear of losing opportunities for advancement. Those fears are, unfortunately, often justified due to the prejudices LGBTQIA+ employees face.
LGBTQIA+ diversity and inclusion in the workplace
Chances are you’ve heard the term DEI: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Diversity and inclusion are often used interchangeably, but they’re not the same thing.
- Diversity is the presence of differences within a given setting.
- Equity is the process of ensuring that processes and programs are impartial and fair to provide equal possible outcomes for every individual.
- Inclusion is the intentional practice of including people in the workplace.
All three of these concepts overlap in one key area: belonging.
We believe in building belonging for every individual. Belonging is respecting who they are, what they offer, how they contribute, and why they’ve chosen to work with us. Belonging is the feeling of being part of something and mattering to others — the feeling that a team member is able to bring their authentic and full self to work every day.
What LGBTQIA+ inclusion is:
Inclusion covers a range of practices that ensure LGBTQIA+ employees feel they belong in your organization. The goal of an inclusive workplace is to ensure that all employees feel:
- They have a voice.
- They belong.
- They are treated as a unique individual.
- They are valued.
How to Develop Inclusive LGBTQIA+ Processes
LGBTQIA+ inclusion in the workplace is part of a broader effort: building belonging for all team members. Below is list of practical ways every part of your organization can help build a culture of inclusion for LGBTQIA+ employees:
- Leadership: No cultural change can get off the ground without buy-in from your leadership team. Having a C-level champion for LGBTQIA+ concerns, or better yet, an organizational leader who is a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, is an important first step towards inclusion.
- Human Resources: HR will be doing some of the heavy lifting when it comes to creating inclusive LGBTQIA+ processes. This includes using gender neutral language in recruitment efforts and internally, hiring for diversity, and building benefits packages that accommodate LGBTQIA+ workers, such as parental leave for all and inclusive healthcare packages.
- Learning and Development: Training is an important piece of inclusion work. Not only does training educate your team about LGBTQIA+ concerns, but it also removes the burden of education off the shoulders of LGBTQIA+ employees, who may field uncomfortable or inappropriate questions from co-workers.
- Strategy: Policy work is key when developing an LGBTQIA+ inclusive culture. It’s crucial that LGBTQIA+ team members be involved in the creation of such policies; however, it’s also important not to force any employee into advocacy or education work outside their regular job.
The training provided by American Diversity Initiative can help create a culture of inclusion. Requiring pronouns for all, hiring a variety of LGBTQIA+ employees, educating the entire team, and representing various kinds of relationships and gender identities are kind and affirming ways to create a culture of inclusion.