LGBTQ+ discrimination in the workplace is the biased treatment LGBTQ+ employees experience due to their gender identity or orientation. It may have been developed due to deeply ingrained social and cultural norms that historically favored heterosexuals. Those who don’t conform to these gender stereotypes are vilified.
LGBTQ+ employees mistreated in the workplace may have their applications rejected, receive lesser pay than their heterosexual counterparts, be overlooked for promotions, or receive bullying or harassment.
- 60% of employees believe they were passed over for a promotion due to their identity in the LGBTQ+ community, 57% believe they were targeted for a performance improvement plan because of their LGBTQ+ identity, and 47% believe they receive less pay
- 26% of respondents are not out at work, citing fear of discrimination (43%), fear of harassment (35%) and concerns about career advancement (24%) as the top reasons why
- 30% of LGBTQ+ employees reported having personally experienced workplace discrimination at a previous employer in some way, shape, or form, like microaggressions, verbal harassment, name-calling, hostility, sexual harassment, and physical violence
Discrimination against LGBTQ+ candidates and employees is not only unjust and harmful. Companies that refuse to employ LGBT+ individuals may face lawsuits and reputational damage. They may also suffer from a limited talent pool, innovation, and creativity because they lack diverse perspectives and ideas.
Tips to Create a LGBTQ Friendly Workplace
An LGBTQ friendly workplace fosters a welcoming, inclusive, and respectful atmosphere for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer staff. In this environment, all employees, irrespective of their sexual orientation or gender identity, can be their real selves without the fear of being harassed or discriminated against.
Here are strategies you can implement to develop a more LGBTQ+ friendly workplace:
1. Get management buy-in and support
Start at the top. Ensure that senior leadership in your organization is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and communicates this commitment to all employees. Their support should set the tone for the entire organization.
2. Use inclusive language when writing job descriptions
- Ensure that the words and phrases you use are welcoming to all candidates, regardless of their sexual identity or orientation. Use ‘they’ instead of ‘he’ or ‘she.’ Use gender-neutral job titles and adjectives.
- Highlight your commitment to DEI by adding statements like ‘We are an equal opportunity employer committed to diversity and inclusion. We welcome applications from candidates of all backgrounds, including those who identify as LGBTQ+.’
- Include a non-discrimination clause with a sentence like: ‘Our organization does not discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity.’
For more information on writing LGBTQ+-bias-free job descriptions, read our blogs, 5 Easy Ways to Remove LGBTQ+ Bias from Your Job Descriptions and 3 Tools for Eliminating Sexist Language in Job Ads.
3. Offer inclusive benefits
Provide employee benefits and perks that address the needs and concerns of the LGBTQ+ workforce, such as
- Gender-neutral facilities like restrooms and changing rooms to accommodate transgender and non-binary individuals
- Paid parental leave to accommodate LGBTQ+ workers who may become parents via surrogacy or adoption
- Transgender health coverage that provides full or partial coverage of gender-affirming surgeries and care, hormone therapies, mental health support, and counseling
- Extension of spousal benefits like health insurance and retirement plans to same-sex domestic partnerships where legal
- Legal resources and assistance related to LGBTQ+ rights, such as name changes or adoption
4. Educate the whole organization about LGBTQ+
Conduct workshops and training to educate employees about LGBTQ+, which explains key terms, sexual orientation, and gender identity. Your training should also address unconscious biases, LGBTQ+ issues, sensitivity to LGBTQ+ needs, and using gender-neutral language.
5. Enforce policies
Implement policies that support LGBTQ+ employees and those who are transitioning, which include:
- Non-discrimination and equal employment opportunity
- Harassment prevention and reporting procedures
- Dress code and grooming policies that are inclusive of gender expression
- Name and pronoun usage policies
- Anti-retaliation and whistleblower protections for those reporting discrimination or harassment.
- Accommodations for LGBTQ-related needs include time off for gender-affirming procedures or religious beliefs.
- Policies for transgender employees undergoing gender transition
6. Create ERGs
Establish ERGs to provide a platform for employees to connect, share experiences, and advocate for LGBTQ+ inclusion. They are responsible for initiating activities relating to advocacy, education, allyship, community outreach, and social events promoting LGBTQ+.
Conduct LGBTQ+ awareness campaigns to educate employees about its history, issues, and events, such as National Coming Out Day or Pride Month. Encourage employees not part of the LGBTQ+ community to become allies and supporters of the ERGs to further advance LGBTQ+ inclusion.
7. Foster an inclusive environment
Last but not least is creating a workplace culture that embraces all types of diversity, including sexual orientation and gender. The following are best practices employers can apply to build a culture of LGBTQ+ inclusion:
- Promote the use of inclusive language in all company communications, policies, and forms. Ensure that gender-neutral words and phrases are used when appropriate.
- Publish and share LGBTQ+ employee testimonials on your social media and websites to show your organization’s support for LGBTQ+ employees, customers, stakeholders, and community members.
- Provide training and mentorship opportunities for LGBTQ+ employees to prepare them for future leadership positions in your company. Build programs that match LGBTQ+ employees with leaders in your organizations so they have access to skills and opportunities to advance their careers.
- Ensure that all employees, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, have equal access to benefits, promotions, and opportunities for career advancement.
- Regularly communicate with LGBTQ+ employees to know their thoughts and feelings about the company’s current DEI efforts. Act on their feedback for improvement.
Why I wrote this:
Hiring LGBTQ+ candidates is a strategic move that promotes diversity, inclusion, and equity within an organization. It aligns with ethical principles and brings benefits like enhanced workplace culture, increased creativity, and a bigger talent pool.
At Ongig, we help recruiters in their DEI initiatives by writing job descriptions that encourage all candidates of sexual orientation and identity to apply. Book a demo to learn more.