LGBT History Month – How to support LGBT+ employees?
LGBT history month is a time where we can look back at the struggles LGBT+ people have faced and at the struggles they still face today. This group still face great discrimination, and this can surface in the workplace too. So, how can you support them?
What is LGBT+?
LGBT+ (Sometimes written as LGBTQ+) stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (with the additional Q referring to either queer or questioning). It represents all people who fall under this umbrella. The plus (which is usually assumed to be included even if not written) refers to anyone else who falls under a minority sexuality or gender identity, such as asexual people, nonbinary people and genderfluid people.
What difficulties do LGBT people face in the workplace?
Not only can LGBT people face harassment and inequality at work, but some have also even been attacked and assaulted for their identity. Use of ‘gay’ as an insult, jokes about bisexual people sleeping around, casual use of slurs towards transgender people – these can all be hurtful and harmful towards LGBT employees. This can lead to a lack of equality and diversity in the workplace, which can lower productivity and employee retention.
“More than a third of LGBT staff (35 per cent) have hidden that they are LGBT at work for fear of discrimination.”
How can we support them?
Here’s some tips on how you can begin to support LGBT people more effectively in the workplace:
- Develop or review policies.
Making sure all your policies are LGBT inclusive is very important. For example, does your parental leave policy work for same-sex couples? Show your commitment and support by making your policies explicitly inclusive and taking the advice of LGBT people in your organisation to adapt them.
- Be an ally.
Read our blog on workplace allyship to learn how.
- Encourage all employees to include their pronouns in their email signatures and profiles.
You can include your pronouns (for example, she/her, or he/they) in your email signature and profiles to let people know how to refer to you. It’s important to include these even if nobody ever gets them wrong, to normalise having them visible, so that people who may have non-standard pronouns, or for whom the wrong pronouns are often used, feel more comfortable including them.
- Use unisex language.
Using ‘they’ instead of ‘he or she’ in communications is not only shorter and easier to read but is also more inclusive for nonbinary employees.
- Offer training and education.
Equality, diversity and inclusion training can help you and your organisation learn how to effectively support LGBT staff.