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Building an Equitable Workplace? 3 Ways to Prioritize LGBTQ+ Workers

In June 2021, LinkedIn published a study on LGBTQ+ in the workplace. Thirty-one percent of LGBTQ+ respondents stated that they face microaggressions or “blatant” discrimination while at work. Additionally, of those respondents who are out at work, 25 percent have been intentionally overlooked for promotions and raises. 

Further, almost 25 percent of LGBTQ+ employees hide their true identities at work for fear of being treated differently. Another 25 percent of LGBTQ+ employees leave their jobs because they don’t feel like they belong. 

If these statistics tell you anything, a significant number of LGBTQ+ employees don’t feel like the workplace is equitable. And that’s a problem—not just for these affected employees but also for employers looking for (and wanting to retain) top talent in a competitive job market.

Read on to learn about three ways to prioritize your LGBTQ+ employees as you structure workplace equity.

1. When Strategizing Equity, Don’t Forget Belonging

Today, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) strategies have taken on one more letter – b for belonging. As human beings, belonging is a fundamental need. However, according to the Harvard Business Review, in 2019, 40 percent of employees felt isolated at work. 

For the LGBTQ+ community, 30 percent of respondents to the LinkedIn study said their workplaces lacked belonging. With social isolation increasing throughout the global pandemic, employers must emphasize belonging as we return to a new way of working.

When employees feel like they belong at work, it can lead to approximately a 56 percent boost in job performance, a 75 percent reduction in employee sick days, and a 50 percent decrease in turnover, according to a 2019 study

Belonging is essential to achieving workplace inclusion. Thus, appreciating employees and understanding your employees’ unique needs – such as those of your LGBTQ+ employees –can decrease feelings of isolation while driving a sense of belonging (as well as your organization’s performance).

For instance, to build a sense of belonging in the workplace, stress open communication. When you empower employees to express their thoughts at work, you not only help them perform at their full potential but you also foster a sense of belonging.

Also, focus on acknowledging and normalizing differences. According to Psychology Today, creating “difference-education programs” can help employees embrace their unique backgrounds and perspectives, again empowering all of your employees, including those that may feel like outsiders.

Showcase Your Commitment to the LGBTQ+ Community

Seventy-seven percent of LGBTQ+ employees state that they want organizations to showcase their commitment to the LGBTQ+ community when job searching. This is a powerful message to employers and one that should not be overlooked. 

As with all workplace equity and diversity strategies, you need to have leadership buy-in. This trickle-down theory works – because if leadership doesn’t demonstrate this commitment, then the employees may doubt the company’s commitment to true diversity. 

Offer benefits that LGBTQ+ employees may prioritize, such as adoption, fertility, and surrogacy assistance.  And create employee groups that unite workers through shared identities, experiences, and interests.

To highlight your support of the community in recruiting, showcase diversity on your company webpage and social media. But, don’t just pay lip service to DEIB. Highlight LGBTQ+ employees and their contributions to the company and the community.

2. Focus on Equitable & Non-Discriminatory Recruiting Practices

Equitable and nondiscriminatory recruiting practices are not only preferred when establishing workplace equity, they’re also required legally. In June 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court extended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to the LGBTQ+ community. Further, although it wasn’t until April 2021, the U.S. Department of Justice agreed to “vigorously enforce” the Supreme Court’s ruling. 

One way to enforce this ruling?  Pay close attention to anti-LGBTQ+ workplace policies and procedures

For instance, reflecting on LinkedIn’s 2021 study, almost half of its respondents said they would like to see more inclusive recruiting and hiring practices among employers. A couple of ways to ensure inclusive and equitable recruiting and hiring practices is to implement bias-free pre-hire assessments and structured interviews

Conducting regular DEIB training—especially for managers—and building a culture around authenticity and belonging will help you achieve workplace equity in addition to the three focused actions above. Employers can achieve true diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging by taking an honest look at culture, outreach, and strategy. 

See how Cangrade can support your hiring and workplace equity. Find out more today.