Diversity, Equity, Belonging and Inclusion

LGBTQ+ inclusion in the workplace: Why it matters

5 min read
LBGTQ+ inclusion in the workplace

June is Pride month, a time dedicated to commemorating the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in New York and celebrating the progress and contributions of the LGBTQ+ community.  While millions of people celebrate Pride month in the United States and the latest decades have seen significant advancement in LGTBQ+ rights, the workplace often presents a challenge as our personal lives are often seen as unwelcome in our professional ones—especially for underrepresented communities. 

As we enter a month of Pride, we evaluate the changes that can be made to create more LGBTQ+ inclusion in the workplace. 

Challenges facing LGBTQ+ communities at work 

Although we tout professionalism and ethics in the workplace, there is often a double standard when it comes to celebrating diversity and the inclusion of minorities. For LGBTQ+ individuals, this is especially true, with a shocking 46 percent reporting that they are still closeted at work.1 

Although their job positions may not be directly threatened by their identity, real factors influence LGBTQ+ discomfort and create an environment of inequality at work. Such contributors include: 

  • Seeing little-to-no representation at senior levels 
  • Hearing insensitive jokes or slurs about LGBTQ+ people
  • Insensitive comments by other team members 
  • Lack of education about LGBTQ+ experience 
  • Non-work-related conversations establishing an exclusive culture
  • Enforced gender binary norms such as requiring only male or female options on applications or employer health insurance

Benefits of LGBTQ+ inclusion in the workplace 

As more people become aware of the importance of diversity, the benefits of LGBTQ+ inclusion at the workplace also continue to grow. 

Creating an environment where everyone feels welcomed, valuable, and free to express themselves promotes more sharing of ideas and greater productivity. Likewise, creating a safe, open environment will result in higher job satisfaction and better employee retention for LGBTQ+ individuals. 

And as our society becomes more aware of the importance of LGBTQ+ rights and equality, showing your organization’s support will likewise better your company’s reputation and make it a more desirable place to work

How to be more LGBTQ+ inclusive at work 

Non-work-related conversations and the dynamic established by managers are two of the largest variables determining LGBTQ+ inclusion in the workplace.2 This means that, whether you work at entry-level or as a CEO, you have the opportunity to create a more inclusive working environment. 

Consider the far-reaching influence of your words. 

Be conscious of your innate biases and cultural norms to make efforts to be inclusive with your speech. Be sure not to make assumptions about lifestyles, partners, or sexual preferences, asking open-ended questions rather than binary ones. For example, instead of asking "What did you and your wife do over the weekend?" try, "What did you and your partner do over the weekend?"  It's a small change that creates a much more inclusive conversation. 

Likewise, don’t be afraid to call out unethical and offensive speech when and if you hear it from colleagues. 

Include formal trainings.

Those in management positions can schedule trainings to equip their team members with phrases and vocabulary to normalize an inclusive culture. This is a good space to bring in experts, start conversations in a controlled environment, and establish internal norms that are LGBTQ+ inclusive. 

Create more inclusive spaces. 

Eliminate gender binary not only in speech, but also on company forms and in your organization's public spaces to help normalize a culture of LGBTQ+ equality. For example, instead of "Good morning, ladies and gentlemen," use "Good morning, everyone." 

Have open and earnest, one-on-one conversations. 

Remember that our colleagues are also people, and it goes a long way when we take a genuine interest in building supportive relationships. 

Earn your diversity leadership certification with Becker 

LGBTQ+ Pride goes beyond the month of June. Help make your workplace a more inclusive place with CPE courses focused on diversity and inclusivity. Becker is proud to offer two CPE certificates:  

Learn the skills to lead positive working environments and boost your company culture, ultimately creating stronger teams and better working relationships. 

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