Diversity & Inclusion

Make change happen this Pride Month: 5 areas that need your attention

Lydia Watson

June is Pride Month – marking the 1969 Stonewall Uprising, and the first U.S. Gay Pride Week, and March a year later. Today, it’s an opportunity to celebrate everything LGBTQ+, pay attention to past and present inequalities, and find ways to make the world more inclusive.

For people leaders, that means taking the time to assess your organisation’s inclusivity – and work towards a workplace culture that celebrates, encourages, and lifts up all identities.  

5 focus areas for improving LGBTQ+ inclusion

You’ll have seen a lot of business marking Pride Month – maybe with a logo change, new product, or temporary website redesign. That’s not necessarily a bad thing: a proud, public statement of support is a good start. But it’s not enough by itself.

Promoting inclusion is one part of creating an inclusive culture, but managers, HR teams, and business leaders need to back it up with their actions:

1. LGBTQ+ Initiatives

In our research with Robert Walters and other D&I specialists, we saw that 28% of LGBTQ+ and 50% of transgender employees don’t think their workplace offers any initiatives to make them feel included. That means missing out on financial benefits (one study found that organisations that introduced such initiatives “outperformed their respective sectors within 5 to 10 years”) but also on the best talent.

Ideas for your organisation:

  • Make sure your policies are inclusive: the Equality Act 2010 bans discrimination at work around sexual orientation, and your policies should enforce that
  • Consider your internal language use: consciously avoid gendered* and gender-coded** language in your policies, guidebooks, or job adverts 
  • Communicate your stance clearly: enforce the inclusive policies you’ve written by communicating them clearly, and often, to both employees and partners
  • Create support programmes: assign allies or senior leaders to offer support, guidance, training, and a place to go if people feel unsafe or unwelcome
  • Consider using an external specialist: bringing in a consultant or inclusion expert could help you set policies and deliver the required training

 

*Use “Parent/carer” instead of “mother/father”, and “they/them” instead of “him/her” etc. 
**Consider the identity implications behind “committed and dependable” versus “confident and determined” 

2. Facilities & Resources

Another concerning stat this research uncovered was that compared to 19% of cisgender employees, 30% of transgender professionals disagreed that everyone in their workplace could easily access resources and facilities. It’s a good example of why being vocal isn’t enough – people need practical support too.

Ideas for your organisation:

  • Non-discriminatory bathrooms: phase out ‘ladies & gents’ toilets, and introduce single cubicles or gender-neutral bathrooms so everyone has a space they feel comfortable in
  • Support for transitioning employees: from offering additional leave, to making it easier to select and change their identity in HR systems, create “structural support” for your transgender employees 
  • Employee resource groups: shared experiences, supportive atmospheres, and safe spaces are resources in themselves – so encourage and fund ERGs in your organisation
  • More equal benefits packages: include all identities in your parental/caring leave policies, consider if the benefits you offer relate to everyone you employ

3.  Manager Support

Unsurprisingly, our research for the Diversity & Inclusion Strategy Report showed that managers play a big part in making people feel included – with over a third of LGBTQ+ employees feeling like their manager hasn’t made an effort to understand them: 

My employers never seemed to value me to the point I lost all confidence in myself. Despite asking for help, this was never given

Ideas for your organisation:

  • Make all managers role models: from the language they use, to the way their team is treated, managers need to be taught to set an example for all others – and watch out for discriminatory behaviour 
  • Give them free training opportunities: as part of your line manager training, introduce expert guidance on how to approach scenarios related to LGBTQ+ issues
  • Help them understand the benefits: from lowered attrition to attracting the best talent, make the benefits of an inclusive management approach clear

4. Pay & Progression

An unsupportive line manager limits your progression and pay too – and we saw that compared to straight men, three times as many LGBTQ+ women didn’t feel confident negotiating their salary – even though just 38% felt it accurately reflected their work:

 

“I have previously worked for multiple managers who were very closed books and offered little in the way of encouragement and feedback, leaving me questioning whether it was worthwhile negotiating on salary.”

That’s reflected in national averages of pay too. LGBTQ+ employees are paid £6700 less than straight workers yearly, on average, and only half of the females in this group earn above the average UK salary – compared to 70% of straight males.

Ideas for your organisation:

  • Create a clear pay structure: take away the guesswork for everyone, and consider ‘pay bands’ and a clear structure for reviews, so it’s not down to who shouts the loudest
  • Consider a mentoring scheme: one recommendation for the BBC involved supporting senior LGBTQ+ employees to act as mentors to others, to help them succeed
  • Educate leaders to be aware of their bias: unconscious bias or a blind allegiance to ‘culture fit’ could leave to discriminatory progression decisions, so educate against it.

5. Better representation 

From our work with Robert Walters, it was clear that representation is an issue. Just a third of the whole LGBTQ+ community are at managerial levels or above – and a quarter of women in this group don’t recognise their organisation as taking steps to be representative.

Another issue is that 40% of LGBTQ+ employees aren’t out at work – a telltale sign that inclusivity has a long way to go (which is why Safety & Access is a key part of our D&I survey).

Ideas for your organisation:

  • Use inclusive recruitment practices: find ways to encourage equality at all levels – from junior roles to leadership positions – in your job adverts and hiring practices
  • Make your office a safe space: be firm about challenging discrimination – from microaggressions to serious incidents – and clear about your support for the community 
  • Focus on inclusion as the route to diversity: inclusion has to come first, or all your ‘diverse hires’ will want to leave – make that your goal.

If there’s one thing you do, start measuring inclusion

Diversity is the goal, inclusion is the method. If you really want to support the LGBTQ+ community in your workplace, it’s crucial to get a sense-check of how it’s going so far. 

We can help you measure inclusion in a way no-one else can, with our Diversity & Inclusion survey. Get in touch today to find out more:

It’s time to start the conversation

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