The LGBTQ community has faced discrimination and violence against them for so long and, being LGBTQ friendly is not just about being tolerant. It’s about understanding the needs of this community and meeting them in a way that feels welcoming and inclusive. It’s about actively combating the harsh reality people in this community deal with day in and day out. Thanks to increased acceptance more, and more people are coming out, however one key area where many people experience discrimination, violence, or harassment because of their identity is at work. If you’re looking for ways to make your business more LGBTQ-friendly, here are some ideas and tips for both outward and inward actions.
How to become an LGBTQ friendly business
An advantage to being an ally in the business world is that if people know you are one, those in the community are more likely to buy your products. The great news is LGBTQ-friendly businesses can do plenty of things to let people know that they are an accepting and inclusive company.
Being actively supportive during Pride month is an excellent way to show you are a LGBTQ-friendly business. Try participating in your local cities events or parades to demonstrate you are an ally. While this is a crucial first step, many companies only do this, and the rest of the year do nothing, which makes people question if they are LGBTQ-friendly. This problem is why you should look into supporting LGBTQ people year-round.
Support year-round could be things like donating to causes or charities that support LGBTQ people. It means researching affiliated companies and suppliers to make sure they uphold the same values as you do. Potentially It even means changing the way you market to the world.
LGBTQ representation in the media is incredibly crucial because it can be hard to come out as queer or trans when you do not see your identity reflected in TV, movies, magazines, etc. The more we normalize Queer representation, the more people will feel comfortable being proud of who they are. Using inclusive advertisements lets you both attract customers from the LGBTQ community and potential employees to your business.
Showing an active effort will make sure those who visit your business know where you stand on these issues without question. A quick tip people give is to post a flag somewhere, such as near your company sign or a sticker in the window of your shop. However, while this is important and should be done, it simply is not enough.
All of this implies you will be sensitive to people who identify as LGBTQ and have policies in place that will support them. The bottom line is if you are a business, it is crucial to show support for LGBTQ people year-round to show you are more than just a corporation using pride to make extra money.
How to develop an inclusive workplace culture
It’s all well and good if your company is outwardly supportive, but it needs to be introspective too. The company needs to have an LGBTQ-supportive culture, which means a lot more than just displaying flags. It’s about paying attention to what the employees are feeling and making sure they feel safe in their work environment.
Starting with having a code of conduct that includes LGBTQ people is a step in the right direction. Having one on hand that reflects LGBTQ values can help create an inclusive space, which will make it easier to attract more queer talent within your field. Try including a non-discrimination policy that includes sexual orientation or gender identity; this way, you can show your commitment to the LGBTQ community.
Another thing you might not have thought about is company benefits such as healthcare. Including LGBTQ people in your coverage is a great way to show LGBTQ-friendly support. You could encompass things such as gender confirmation surgery or being inclusive of same-sex marriages in spousal benefits. Also, try providing a list of resources to LGBTQ individuals who want to learn more about their rights or the best ways to come out professionally.
Becoming an LGBTQ- friendly business means hiring LGBTQ people in your company. However, retaining them is where the above pieces of advice come in handy. If you are not treating your LGBTQ employees equally, they will opt to go to a company that will treat them better. Adding LGBTQ people to your executive team can also help make sure that LGBTQ voices are heard in the workplace.
LGBTQ-friendly employees are the key to making your company LGBTQ-friendly. You need LGBTQ people in every aspect of business, not just marketing or public relations. LGBTQ professionals can help you make sure that all aspects of your business are inclusive, and there’s always someone at the table able to provide a different opinion. When you hire someone who identifies within the community, it shows that they are welcome and encouraged in the workplace. In addition, it should be noted that sexual orientation is often-times not discussed at all by business owners, and some of your LGBTQ employees may not want to be out. However, the more it is made clear that your company accepts the community, the more people will feel comfortable being themselves at work.
How to support LGBTQ employees
To create a LGBTQ-friendly business, you need to go beyond just policies and pay attention to how LGBTQ employees are being treated by management and other workers. If an LGBTQ person doesn’t feel safe at work, they might not come to work or quit.
The first step is, of course, education. Meaning, you need to be up to date on LGBTQ history in order to understand what it means when someone says they are LGBTQ. Educate your managers and other employees so that LGBT employees feel comfortable at work. Try utilizing LGBTQ training companies when doing this training, as it will show your commitment to supporting and understanding the community. It will also help you feel more comfortable working in an LGBTQ-friendly space, which is essential for everyone to feel safe and valued at work.
Using inclusive language is critical to making sure all LGBTQ employees feel included. For example, sharing your pronouns is a great way to establish that you are an ally of the community and make room for people to share their own, as well. It is also important to use inclusive language in your office space. For example, making sure all pronouns are included when talking about coworkers so that no one feels left out and isolated.
A simple way to make GNC or gender non-conforming people more comfortable in a workplace is to provide gender-neutral bathrooms. However, it is vital to have these accessible for everyone on the spectrum, not just for trans people. Having an inclusive bathroom can be as easy as changing signage so that it reflects all genders.
Lastly, make sure you are enforcing the policies you have put in place. If this means stating explicit consequences for not following a code of conduct or general workplace expectations, then do so. It is one thing for the etiquette to be in place and another for people to follow it. Don’t be afraid to enforce them to keep your workplace a safe space for all employees.
It might seem daunting to make your business LGBTQ-friendly but once you have taken these steps, not only will your workplace feel more inclusive, but it will probably be more productive. When people feel like they can be themselves, it makes work seem like less of a chore. Overall, it is beneficial to take these measures and put them into effect. It will help your business stand out and be a better place to work.