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Pride in the Workplace

While June is as good a time as any to recognize the contributions of LGBTQIA+ individuals in the workplace, the true goal is creating spaces that are inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity, and where all people are valued and respected. How can our workplaces demonstrate a commitment to learning, growth, and empathy to foster environments where everyone can thrive?

Fostering belonging for LGBTQIA+ employees requires employers to create a welcoming and supportive environment that goes beyond getting everyone’s pronouns right (though that’s a good start!) For employees to feel empowered to bring their authentic selves to work and contribute to their full potential, workplaces must listen to and learn from their employees, and dedicate effort and resources to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging.

The LGBTQIA+ community in the US today comprises nearly 14 million adults – currently, 5.1% of adult US women and 3.9% of adult US men identify as LGBTQIA+. This community is growing rapidly. Growth is due in large part to Gen Z (people born between 1997 - 2012), who are six times more likely than their Gen X counterparts to identify as LGBTQIA+. Gen Z will account for 30% of the workforce by the year 2030. It’s imperative for employers to deepen their focus on LGBTQIA+ inclusion, visibility, and engagement.

In order to engage this new generation of workers and consumers—many of whom choose careers and products based on diversity and inclusion—companies must move beyond public, often performative, gestures of support for LGBTQIA+ individuals and communities.

Consider these strategies to enhance your team’s inclusion efforts:

1. Combat underrepresentation and isolation by reducing “onlyness.”

Onlyness, or being the only person on a team or in a meeting with their given gender identity, sexual orientation, or race, can increase stress in employees. LGBTQIA+ women are twice as likely as women overall to report being an “only,” and they’re seven times more likely to say so than are straight white men. LGBTQ+ women of color are eight times more likely than straight white men to report onlyness.

• Strive to make the “only” experience rare from the start:

• Highlight your organization’s support for the LGBTQIA+ community prominently on your website and all recruiting materials. 

Try collaborative hiring processes

• Be explicit about benefits for same-sex partners and families

• Adopt blind resume-screening—remove names, gender signifiers, and affinity-group affiliations—to reduce the role of unconscious bias in hiring decisions.

• Strengthen employee-resource groups by offering dedicated resources for LGBTQIA+ employees.

2. Examine your organization’s current policies and benefits for inclusive practices.

Out & Equal is an organization whose mission includes achieving workplaces of equality and belonging - supporting LGBTQ+ employees and leaders who thrive in their careers and lives and achieve greater impact on the world. Their toolkit helps teams “audit” their inclusivity policies and procedures, in order to provide services and benefits to LGBTQIA+ individuals that promote wellness, confidentiality, and equity. Access to or creation of gender-neutral facilities, an inclusive dress code, and securing partner and family benefits are only a few ways that organizations can incorporate and promote truly inclusive policies.

3. Educate your workforce and promote awareness.

Create a sense of belonging that allows your team to work together more cohesively and to be more productive. Implement training programs to educate employees about LGBTQ+ issues, terminology, and best practices for creating an inclusive workplace. Tools such as DEI calendars can help avoid creating meetings or events on observed holidays, ensuring respectful and inclusive planning.

• Education and awareness training topics might include:

• LGBTQIA+ terminology and concepts for how people identify themselves

• Workplace issues, behaviors, and assumptions that affect LGBTQIA+ employees

• Practical insights and actions to help you support LGBTQIA+ teammates

• Various ways to be an LGBTIA+ ally

Start today! Connect with Careerstone Group to discuss ways to support a diverse workplace.  Let’s talk about diversity beyond mere representation and explore strategies for creating a safe and supportive environment where everyone feels respected and valued. Together, we can partner to understand and address the discrimination, microaggressions, and lack of understanding or support from colleagues and management that LGBTQIA+ individuals may face in the workplace. It’s everyone’s job to create belonging at work.

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