Cultivating an inclusive workplace for your LGBT employees
June sees month-long pride celebrations taking place worldwide, with rainbow flags flying high and community parades drumming to the beat of solidarity.
The colourful and vibrant festivities throughout pride month are led by LGBT communities. They encourage the celebration and acceptance of all sexual identities, especially those that may have been subject to prejudice or discrimination from mainstream society.
Whilst pride month is a wonderful and welcoming event, it also reminds us that discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people sadly still occurs. Such prejudice can be harmful to a person’s wellbeing and have a damaging effect on both their work and homelife.
Pride celebrations do what they can to share the importance of diversity and inclusivity during June. But everyone can work together to ensure that acceptance is widespread and felt throughout the year.
In the workplace, employers can protect the safety and wellbeing of LGBT employees by being proactive with their processes and attitudes.
Develop an anti-discrimination policy
As an employer you have a legal and ethical responsibility to protect your employees from discrimination under the Equality Act. It is therefore recommended that you have an up-to-date anti-discrimination clause in place from the moment you hire your first employee.
An anti-discrimination policy lets your employees know that unlawful discrimination against sexual orientation (and the other 8 protected characteristics) is forbidden. It gives you the power to properly address wrongdoing of this nature. Employees can understand that breach of this clause will result in consequences such as a disciplinary or termination of contract, and could lead to expensive WRC/high court claims against the business.
Put that policy into practice
Having a policy is one thing, but it’s cultivating a diverse and inclusive workplace that can really make a difference to the day-to-day lives of your LGBT employees. It is fine to accept that you will not know all the answers as to how to achieve this right away. Encourage open conversations to understand what an inclusive workplace looks like to an LGBT employee.
With a safe and understanding environment at work, your employees can feel encouraged to bring various perspectives and abilities to the table. And with a ‘one for all and all for one’ mentality, your workforce can feel stronger than ever.
As your team grows, it’s important that diversity is embraced, as your small team now will become the nucleus of your growing team, and they will set the ‘culture of your business’.
Remember, discrimination by the company OR AN EMPLOYEE against a person under any of the following is not only damaging your business, it is Illegal and could cost your company a lot of money in legal fees and awards made against the business,
• Gender: this means man, woman or transsexual
• Civil status: includes single, married, separated, divorced, widowed people, civil partners and former civil partners
• Family status: this refers to the parent of a person under 18 years or the resident primary carer or parent of a person with a disability
• Sexual orientation: includes gay, lesbian, bisexual and heterosexual
• Religion: means religious belief, background, outlook or none
• Age: this does not apply to a person aged under 16
• Disability: includes people with physical, intellectual, learning, cognitive or emotional disabilities and a range of medical conditions
• Race: includes race, skin colour, nationality or ethnic origin
• Membership of the Traveller community.
How diverse is your workforce?
Do you have a diverse workforce? Which management methods do you use to encourage a welcoming workplace?