July 5, 2016
Much has been written about the business case for diversity and inclusion with one overarching theme; people perform better when they can be themselves. This is especially true for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans employees. Have you ever hesitated before talking about your partner to a colleague at work? Anticipated how they will react when they find out the person’s gender? Have you ever thought twice about going to the toilet in the office? Spent more time worrying about which facilities you’ll use than the looming deadline you have coming up? These are just a few examples of the thoughts that can consume the mental power of an LGBT person when you create a working environment which isn’t inclusive. According to last year’s Open For Business report, LGBT diversity and inclusion in the workplace impacts two key areas of productivity – business and individual performance, which rely on a focus on sound management and an inclusive workplace design.
Business performance is improved through attracting diverse talent to your organisation. Bringing together staff with different backgrounds helps to facilitate innovation and collaboration adding to a variety of perspectives on business problems and solutions.
LGBT inclusion also increases individual performance by enabling employees to bring their authentic self to work. This creates a greater sense of job commitment, higher levels of satisfaction and motivation as well as improved workplace relationships. Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index 2016 staff survey found that lesbian, gay and bisexual staff were 67 per cent more likely to be satisfied with their sense of achievement if they were comfortable being completely out at work.
How can you facilitate LGBT inclusion in your work place?
- Get your policy right – policy is the bed rock of your inclusion practice and will help structure your work. Ensure that all policies are LGBT inclusive, from your bullying and harassment policy, to your maternity/paternity policies.
- Train your staff effectively – ensure all staff equality and diversity training covers sexual orientation and gender identity. Explore topics such as challenging anti-LGBT behaviour and language through the use of case studies. Think about each staff group and how training may need to be tailored, for example, bias against LGBT people during your recruitment process.
- Demonstrate your commitment – send messages to your staff around key LGBT events and dates, such as pride season, and encourage your staff to participate.
- Create an LGBT network – 82 per cent of employers who entered Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index 2016 had either an LGBT network group or access to a regional/sector specific LGBT network group. These network groups help create a confidential and safe space for LGBT people, can educate the wider organisation through awareness raising events and are invaluable for inputting into relevant policies and procedures.
- Monitoring – think carefully about monitoring your workforce to ensure there is LGBT representation across different levels and grades within the organisation. If you run an anonymous staff satisfaction survey, attach a monitoring form to allow you to analyse the satisfaction levels of LGBT staff.
- Don’t just focus on sexual orientation – all too often the ‘T’ in ‘LGBT’ is invisible. Make sure you don’t just solely refer to sexual orientation – celebrate and raise awareness of the trans community. For more information on trans inclusion, see Stonewall’s new workplace resource series Supporting Trans Staff in the Workplace.
- Physical space – trans people are frequently denied access to spaces, facilities and groups that are gender specific. You should assume and allow anyone to use facilities, such as toilets, that align with their gender. Work with your office or estate management team to implement gender neutral facilities for staff who identify as non-binary (in addition to those who simply wish for privacy).
- Take part in Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index – Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index is the industry leading benchmarking tool for LGBT equality and inclusion in the workplace. Every year hundreds of employees submit to the index as a way of scrutinising their LGBT inclusion practices and to develop a plan of action for future work. For more information about the Index and to register to participate, see our Workplace Equality Index 2017 hub.
- Join Stonewall’s Diversity Champions programme – Stonewall works with over 700 employers through the Diversity Champions programme – Britain’s leading best-practice forum for sexual orientation and gender identity equality, diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Members benefit from expertise and guidance, Stonewall visibility and branding, strategy and benchmarking and discounted rates to Stonewall events. For more information about joining the programme, see the Stonewall website.
Peter Holmes is the Project Manager for Stonewall’s Membership Programmes team. He manages the Workplace Equality Index, Stonewall’s Starting Out careers guide and writes and produces workplace resources on LGBT equality, diversity and inclusion.