Recently, in an online HR Group, a group member asked “what can I do to create an inclusive workplace to support LGBTQ+ employees at s small business?” “Small” business was important here; he went on to clarify that he had recently moved from a large (3,000+ employee) company with a thriving LGBTQ+ ERG and other plans, resources and commitments.
I chimed in with a few thoughts (as I am wont to do) and since I was the only respondent I figured I would share my ideas here as well:
- Outline in your values how the company defines inclusion – and illustrate the behaviors that back up and reflect that commitment.
- Ensure the company handbook and policies have been updated to reference non-discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.
- Review company benefits for inclusion to ensure that gender or stereotypical roles are not at play – this may include things like Leave of Absence (LOA) eligibility and how parents, partners or family members are defined in bereavement leave policies.
- Review the language used on both company documents and within conversations – for example, use of words like “guys” and “ladies” in chat or as greetings and even the naming conventions used in job titles, For example, how many companies still use job titles that are exclusive – even in conversation – such as Maintenance Man or Sales Guy?
- Celebrate people being “open” … but don’t have an expectation that people will come out at work – some may choose not to do so.
- Determine how the company and employees can visibly display allyship … without being performative. As the saying goes “Don’t just wave the Pride Flag if you’re not also doing the work.”
- Focus on compassion and empathy; sometimes it’s enough to be creating a safe space for people.
I also shared information about Out and Equal – a great organization of workplace advocates that focuses on LGBTQ+ workplace equality (chock full of resources, templates and toolkits).
As I’m posting this it is, of course, the last official day of Pride Month. But working for equality, opportunity, and justice for ALL people is not confined to just one month per year.
Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries.
Without them, humanity cannot survive.