“Bring your true self to work!” haven’t we heard of this advice? It does make a lot of sense. Being your authentic self at work is necessary because the workplace dynamics have evolved with time. The workplace is not transactional anymore! Forming meaningful humane connections has become an integral part of career growth and success.
Isn’t that a great change? A workspace where an employee is motivated, empowered, accepted, and included in the process can make pivotal changes to the business. Studies show that empowerment, inclusion, and safety affect productivity twice.
Now imagine, what can happen to productivity, when the same employee feels excluded, disengaged, and is struggling to get acceptance not only in the workplace but also in society? This is what people from the LGBTQ+ community face every day! The struggle to come to terms with your own gender identity which is different from the ones assigned at birth is real. Thus, when businesses say they are “diverse” and “inclusive” it is necessary to check if your workplaces are LGBTQ+ friendly; if your workplaces are inclusive in the true sense.
Why LGBTQ+ Inclusion is Necessary?
This is a free world! There is nothing wrong with having non-binary gender identities. Rather, it is not something that should matter to anyone at the workplace; employee’s work, talent, and skills must be the only measure. How your employees perform must determine their growth and success, not what gender they follow or how different they are from the masses. Everyone’s gender, physical status, identity, and sexual orientation are valid and judgment-free.
Accepting the LGBTQ+ community is still a taboo in society. As brands and businesses, bringing reforms in the society is still secondary, as proactive leaders the primary focus must be on bringing reforms in our workplaces. Creating safe and inclusive spaces for all must be the only focus of leaders. Pride month gives a lot of opportunities to accept and celebrate diversity. But we can take a step forward to work on LGBTQ+ inclusion in the business all year round irrespective of the pride month celebrations.
Moreover, the pandemic has made organizations rethink their DEI as a talent attraction and retention strategy. There is also a need for brands to develop a gender-inclusive tone in inbound and outbound marketing communications. While this can help lay down policies to empower employees this can also aid in create a progressive brand image for clients, customers, facilitators, and entrepreneurs from the community. These initiatives help in allyship that plays a key in supporting pride beyond vocal. When people have the opportunity to choose their role in being an ally, creates a value proposition for all.
Consequences of LGBTQ+ Exclusion
Moreover, if seen from an alternative perspective, by failing to include the LGBTQ+ community, the industry can lose a lot of talent, potential, and opportunities. Globally it is estimated that the purchasing power of the pride community accounts for up to 5 trillion USD a year.
Nearly 71% of people from the community spend only on companies that recognize and have a safe for the LGBTQ community.
An Indian study shows that India loses 32 billion USD which is almost 1.7% of the country’s GDP by not protecting the rights of the community.
Creating Psychologically Safe Workplaces
Data suggests that around 6% of the workforce today identifies themselves as LGBTQ+, yet only 1 in 5 companies provide equitable benefits to the community. Furthermore, 68% of LGBTQ+ employees have been called names by co-workers. Considering these numbers, it is extremely important in the current times to create workplaces that make the employees feel psychologically safe and healthy. Being not accepted and included can lead to demotivation and a lack of trust in the brand among employees.
How will such employees be able to deliver a seamless customer experience when they find it difficult to trust their brands? Lack of inclusivity makes employees 13x more likely to quit jobs. Moreover, a negative workplace experience leads to a 40% decline in productivity.
Let us now have a look at how we can create psychologically safe workplaces:
LGBTQ+ Inclusion is more than celebrating pride
While it is a part of the, just celebrating pride month is not the solution. Include employees from the community in discussions and acknowledge their opinions in discussions about workplace culture.
• Introducing same-sex partner health insurance and medical benefits can also be a major step forward.
• Create a gender-neutral workplace experience through inclusive brand messaging in form of newsletters, and graphical representations and not limiting brand ads and social media posts referring just to binary individuals, couples, or families.
• Including more proactive steps like gender-neutral restrooms for transgender employees and strong actionable workplace policies against bullying and harassment can go a long way in making the LGBTQ+ community feel safe at the workplace.
Accept Pitfalls and Improvise
The best intentions to improve belonging won’t always materialize. It is okay to fail at times, but the efforts will be seen when leaders accept the pitfalls and learn from the process.
This can be dealt with by offering representation to LGBTQ+ employees by giving them opportunities to talk about and understand using inclusive language.
Developing an equitable and inclusive attitude can not only help brands on-board the best talent but also add to the brand image inspiring others to take progressive steps towards making the world a better place to work.