Workplace Diversity

Pride Month (June) is an annual celebration of the many contributions made by the LGBTQIA+ community to history, society, and cultures worldwide. In most places, Pride is celebrated throughout the month of June each year in commemoration of its roots in the Stonewall Riots of June 1969. This June has seen many events and celebrations.

Most of us don’t need a reason — like Pride Month or other  LGBTQIA+  awareness days — to support the LGBTQIA+ community. However, many LGBTQIA+ people in the UK still choose not to disclose their sexuality at work. And many more Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Queer (LGBTQ) senior executives have not come out at the office.

Fear of homophobia, exclusion, being passed over for promotions and job interviews are still very real for many LGBTQIA+ people. We have come a long way in most workplaces in embracing diversity, but there remains work to do in making workplaces truly inclusive.

A recent CIPD research report explores LGBTQIA+ experiences of work, from conflict and wellbeing to job outcomes, and finds that LGBTQIA+ employees are more likely to experience workplace conflict and harassment. This suggests that organisations’ handling of conflict and harassment must improve and employers must develop a greater understanding of the specific experiences, and needs, of LGBTQIA+ employees, particularly when it comes to building awareness and acting on trans policies and practices. 

We believe that HR professionals are uniquely equipped to ensure LGBTQIA+ inclusive policies and practices are in place, along with a supportive inclusive culture in which these issues are handled with sensitivity. There are so many benefits to an inclusive workplace:

  • It improves business reputation and reduces potential for discrimination claims.
  • You recruit from a larger talent pool
  • Diversity helps you understand your customer base better or allows you to expand it.
  • It creates a culture of meritocracy and therefore boosts engagement and productivity. 

So, what can businesses do to demolish career barriers, reduce workplace discrimination, and better support employees who identify as LGBTQIA+  in the workplace?

Here are our tips for improving diversity and inclusion in the workplace:

  • Start with the basics – make sure you have an appropriate policy on diversity and communicate it to your staff. A policy should do more than sit in a drawer (or on a shared driver), it needs to reflect your commitment to diversity and inclusion so that your staff know what they can expect from you.
  • Training – build awareness of your policy and of the culture that you want to see in your workplace. Training can cover what is or isn’t acceptable in terms of behaviour, look at how to communicate and build relationships within the team, and how to report and resolve concerns. 
  • Action – support for LGBTQIA+ events to demonstrate support for the LGBTQIA+ community and your LGBTQIA staff, consider establishing an EDI committee to allow individuals to come forward if they have ideas for how diversity and inclusion may be improved, consider whether it may be helpful to give staff the option to share their preferred pronouns, look at whether you can improve your recruitment processes to bring in more diversity.

The evidence is clear: companies that embrace LGBTQIA+ policies outperform their competitors*

Diversity helps draw top talent and foster innovation, and people perform significantly better when they can be themselves at work.

*view report from Credit Suisse on the Financial Times: