With recent events in Florida and Texas, and anti-LGBTQ+ legislation making headlines, our LGBTQ+ employees are hurting. There is still much work left to be done to ensure the LGBTQ+ individuals at our companies feel supported, valued, and included. Let’s not sit on the sidelines. We need to take action towards creating more inclusive workplaces and protecting our queer colleagues.
(If you’re confused on terminology, or looking for a helpful visual resource when talking about gender identity and gender expression, I highly recommend checking out the Gender Unicorn!)
Here is a list of eight things we can do to better support the LGBTQ+ community in our workplace.
8 Ways to Support the LGBTQ+ Community at Your Organization
- Regularly discuss your advocacy + support
Have regular conversations with your team about your advocacy and support of the LGBTQ+ community. This should be a year-round topic, not just something you address during Pride month.
- Scrub internal communication and imagery that assumes heterosexual relationships as the norm
Don’t operate on the assumption that a heterosexual relationship is the norm. Choose imagery and language that supports same-sex couples and their families. When building your website, sending an email, slacking a group, or creating a blog post, make sure the images, words, and pronouns you choose are inclusive.
- Set up ERGs and support groups
Ideally, companies should have ERGs, affinity groups, or support groups for every underrepresented group at the organization. When creating groups for LGBTQ+ employees, you might consider having one group that is open to allies, as well as a closed or private group or separate meetings with only those identifying as LGBTQ+ to protect the privacy of LGBTQ+ members.
- Embrace gender-neutral and inclusive policies + documentation
Use inclusive language and pronouns in all company documentation. Rather than using she/he when referring to a role, use they. Check your job listings and descriptions, internal communications, and any other company documentation to ensure all language is gender-inclusive. Think about what the policies at your company are communicating, and who they include. Do you have gender-neutral bathrooms? What types of healthcare options do you offer for any LGBTQ+ employees that might be transitioning? Do you have a policy in place to support their transition?
- Create an inclusive dress code
Although many companies have moved away from gender-based dress codes, many still have expectations for work attire. For example, are all women required to wear skirts? Double-check to make sure your dress code is inclusive and doesn’t enforce gender stereotypes.
- Add a space for pronouns in email signatures and job applications
Does your company have an email signature template that leaves space for employees to include their pronouns? Do you have your pronouns added to your Zoom name, or various other meeting platforms? Being proactive about sharing your pronouns will help provide space for others to share their pronouns if they desire. It also helps you avoid making assumptions and incorrectly addressing someone.
- Sponsor and support LGBTQ+ organizations
You know what they say, you’ve got to put your money where your mouth is. Sponsoring and supporting LGBTQ+ organizations, whether by purchasing a product, speaking at an event, or otherwise collaborating together, can demonstrate your support. You might consider purchasing promo items, marketing materials, company lunch, or swag from vocally LGBTQ+ organizations.
- Extend parental benefits to same-sex couples
Does your benefits package take into account same-sex couples when laying out parental leave or other parental benefits? Set aside time to go through your benefits and make sure all types of couples are accounted for.
In order to truly support a group of people, we need to put policies and structures in place to enact real, long-term change. With these practical ideas, you can help the LGBTQ+ community feel accepted, valued, and cherished at your organization.