As a modern business leader, you understand the importance of making your business inclusive. It’s not only the right thing to do, but it’s also effective in terms of hiring from a large pool of applicants and attracting customers who share the same inclusive values you do. It’s 2018, and as the world becomes more LGBTQ friendly (for the most part, anyway), you want your business to do the same. There are lots of ways to do this, from hiring more LGBTQ staff and promoting them when it’s deserved, to giving money to charities in your community that supports the rights of this segment of the US population.
That’s why you want to be as informed as possible. Sure, you’re on the right track, but you want to make sure you’re doing all you can to make your business more LGBTQ friendly. And here’s how.
1 Create a progressive LGBTQ policy
If you’re reading this article, the chances are good that you are already supportive of the LGBTQ community. Which means that you’ve already got a policy that’s friendly to every member of this group. But you know there’s got to be more to it than simply hiring them and making sure that they aren’t being harassed by other employees because of their sexual preference or identity. So if you want to make your LGBTQ policy even more progressive, you can use the Human Rights Campaign’s guidelines in their Corporate Equality Index.
According to U.S. News, “no longer is a mere anti-discrimination policy for gays and lesbians enough: companies now tout their same-sex partner benefits, coverage and paid time off for transgender surgeries, outreach to LGBT suppliers and creation of Employee Resource Groups for LGBT workers. According to Berry’s count, 94 percent of Fortune 500 companies have formal policies banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and three-fourths include gender identity and gender expression in their anti-bias policies.”
But that 94 percent isn’t necessarily going all the way. You, however, can. And if you’re looking for even more ways to get progressive, ask your employees in an anonymous survey to find out what would support them most.
2 Encourage networking in the LGBTQ community
Especially if you’ve got a larger business, you likely have many employees working for you already who identify as LGBTQ. And no matter how many times you’ve emailed out your revised LGBTQ-friendly policy, or had workshops with HR on how to be inclusive, there’s nothing like creating a community for these employees in the workplace.
According to Rework, “One of the most important and often overlooked pieces to the employee retention puzzle is friendship and mentorship among colleagues, peers, and team members not just in a department, but across the organization. Companies should help foster and encourage an internal LGBT network community within their organization.”
Additionally, if you partner up with an LGBTQ organization or charity, you can include everyone in the workplace by putting together fundraisers. This way, your LGBTQ employees will have a safe space at work, but one that they can share when it comes to improving the community. Considering that, in 2017, only 16 percent of employees said they felt “connected and engaged” with employers, this will make a huge difference in employee motivation and retention, too.
3 Practice what you preach
Finally, it’s important for you to do as you say. Of course, it’s important to plan events for the LGBTQ community, and write up a great policy. But the day to day matters, too. For example, are you using the right pronouns for all of your employees? If you aren’t, it’s time to get educated. The same goes for all your employees. Even a small comment about the gender-neutral bathrooms or wishing it could all be like back in the day with old boys clubs is something that needs to be addressed. Understanding your employees’ daily behavior on this is as important as having a lawyer like Aaron Kelly present at all your business negotiation meetings.
And don’t forget that you want to draw LGBTQ customers to your business. Show them that you’re open to their needs, and put some research into this customer base. Make your website LGBTQ friendly. Whether you’re in the delivery or beauty business, reaching out to these customers is another way of being inclusive. Considering that 10 million people in the US identified as LGBTQ in 2016, it’s important to reach out to their community no matter what you’re selling.
By using these strategies, your business will become more LGBTQ friendly. What other ways do you think you can make your business more LGBTQ friendly?