HR can take key steps to ensure equity in the workplace and enable all employees to be themselves.
A new Glassdoor workplace survey suggests that LGBTQ workers don’t necessarily feel comfortable being themselves on the job and worry about the consequences if they are “outed” to their employers. Overall, the survey makes it clear that HR has some work to do in ensuring equity and providing a supportive, safe workplace for LGBTQ employees.
Nearly half (47%) of LGBTQ employees believe that being “out” at work could hurt their career and even result in them losing their job. Nonetheless, nearly two-thirds (57%) of LGBTQ employees said they feel that they are “fully out” at their company, while 43% said they feel that they aren’t fully “out” at work. This is of particular concern, as several studies have indicated that openly LGBTQ workers are happier and more productive than those who are forced or feel compelled to hide their true selves on the job.
More than half (53%) of LGBTQ workers reported experiencing or witnessing anti-LGBTQ comments by coworkers. Nearly three-quarters (70%) of respondents said they would not apply to work at a company that doesn’t support its LGBTQ employees. Both LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ employees suggested that their company could do more to support LGBTQ workers.
Currently, about half of U.S. states don’t have laws to protect LGBTQ people on the job; and many of these employees feel uncertain that they are safe at work and unsure that they won’t be discriminated against. “This is a wake-up call to employers and lawmakers,” said Jesus Suarez, Glassdoor’s LGBTQ and ally employee group leader. “Many employers have an opportunity to build or strengthen the foundation for an inclusive culture that encourages employees to bring their full selves to work.”
To ensure a more LBGTQ-friendly workplace, consider the following steps:
1. Set and enforce policies regarding your organization’s position on LGBTQ rights. Be clear about what is and isn’t acceptable behavior, and have consistently enforced procedures to deal with employees who are in violation.
2. Make sure your job ads and listings are free from unconscious bias. Check the wording; run them through a tool such as Textio to ensure you are sending the right message. Feel free to explicitly state your organization’s commitment to equality and diversity.
3. Partner with LGBTQ organizations in your area, and include your job listings on boards that focus on the LGBTQ community (such as Pink Jobs).
4. Train your staff about how to ensure a friendly environment for LGBTQ employees. Diversity training should include a section on sexual orientation and gender identity.
5. Check your benefits. Your employee benefits should treat LGBTQ employees equally. Make sure the wording regarding benefits such as health insurance never excludes same sex partners.
It behooves HR to address some of these issues. As Suarez said, “Any employer that chooses to ignore implementing supportive working environments and policies risks missing out on hiring quality talent.”