June 2023 marks not only the start of some nice weather for us (is anybody else sporting a lovely red hue this week?) but also – and much more importantly – it’s Pride month.
Pride Month is about acceptance, equality and celebrating the work of LGBTQ+ people. It is also an opportunity to raise awareness about LGBTQ+ history and generally educate the public about LGBTQ+ issues.
Whilst society is undoubtedly more open and understanding of LGBTQ+ issues nowadays, there are still lots of challenges that LGBTQIA+ employees face.
In fact, in their 2021 report “Inclusion at Work – perspectives on LGBT+ working lives”, the CIPD found that 40% of LGB+ workers and 55% of trans workers have experienced conflict at work, compared with 29% of heterosexual, cisgender (i.e. those who identify with the gender they were assigned at birth) employees. Additionally, a higher proportion of LGB+ workers (16%) feel psychologically unsafe in the workplace compared with heterosexual workers (10%), and for trans workers, this figure is even higher at 18%.
And it’s not hard to see why. After all, a poll from TUC in 2022 highlighted that there is still a widespread lack of support for LGBTQ+ staff. For example, one in five workplaces told the TUC that they didn’t have any policies in place to support LGBTQ+ staff.
Pride month is a good time, specifically for employers, to reflect on these challenges and think about what more can be done to create a more accepting environment. After all, research shows that diverse workplaces are often more productive!
So, what can you, as an employer, do to support your LGBTQ+ staff?
Well, there are some handy tips and tricks that we can offer you:
- Policies – yes, of course you need to put in place robust equality, diversity and inclusivity policies that set out clearly the types of discriminatory treatment and expressly prohibit any such treatment. BUT think about your other policies as well: are they inclusive of LGBTQ+ staff? Wherever possible you should try to avoid using gendered language (particularly in policies related to family-friendly leave). You should also make sure that employee benefits apply equally to LGBTQ+ staff – so adoption leave should match maternity leave and equal access should be given to any health insurance or death in service benefits.
- Training – even a small amount of education and awareness of LGBTQ+ issues can go a long way. Specifically, providing managers with training on how to deal with these issues sensitively will allow LGBTQ+ staff to feel safe in raising concerns and reduce the risk of getting processes wrong (ultimately making things worse). Spreading education generally in the workplace can help to reduce discriminatory behaviour. It doesn’t need to be a formal “sit down and listen to this presentation” (although these are definitely helpful and Precept have a superb training session that we deliver regularly and can do so in a very cost effective way!) email bulletins highlighting specific issues or personal stories often allows staff to engage and see first-hand the impact of discriminatory treatment.
- Listen – LGBTQ+ issues are not all identical. Different individuals experience different issues, react differently and celebrate pride differently. There is no better way to ensure that you hit the mark with your well-meaning actions (as above) than by first asking staff what those issues are. Listening to your LGBTQ+ staff can help you formulate the policies and training we’ve referenced above. To do this, some workplaces have equality & diversity “champions”. These are individuals designated to promote equality and diversity at work and to listen to and deal with any concerns about potentially discriminatory behaviour. We totally get that this won’t work for every workplace though but it’s still important to listen to staff.
- Action – take action! First, if you see something that seems discriminatory, you should either raise concerns to the relevant person (whether that’s HR or a senior manager) or you, yourself should take appropriate action. At all times, a zero-tolerance approach should be taken to discriminatory treatment. Additionally, what positive action (not that type!) can you take? Can you donate to LGBQT+ charities? Would it make staff feel more comfortable to include their pronouns in their email signature? Allyship can be celebrated in lots of different ways, so you’ll be able to find a way that feels comfortable to you.
Remember! Supporting LGBTQ+ staff goes way beyond Pride month and should be incorporated into your everyday practices. This is going to greatly benefit your LGBTQ+ staff and your business as a whole.
Remember we said that diverse workplaces are often more productive? That’s not just a throwaway statement you know! Research by Forbes in 2017 found that “decisions made and executed by diverse teams delivered 60% better results.” So, there can be positive changes all round in boosting inclusivity and diversity at your place of work.
If you want more information relating to Pride, LGBTQ+ issues or supporting inclusivity and diversity generally at work, please contact us at Precept. We are here and happy to help!