As we enter June, the month of LGBTQ+ pride, employers may want to think about what they are doing to retain the LGBTQ+ workforce and to be aware of some of the obstacles the population faces in the workplace. Let’s first look at some of the obstacles the LGBTQ+ population could encounter in the work environment. Some of the most common obstacles are discrimination and harassment based off their gender identity. Jokes can be a form of harassment that LGBTQ+ employees encounter, or they may feel they were separated or not selected for promotion based of their gender identity or expression. Employees may feel that they cannot be their true selves at the workplace and continue to remain closeted in fear or harassment or discrimination.
An organization can take steps to help overcome these obstacles and to value and retain the LGBTQ+ workforce. A good practice is to look at the company culture and see if it is inclusive of LGBTQ+ members. One way to have an inclusive culture is to develop an Employee Resource Group (ERG) that allows LGBTQ+ employees to form mentoring programs, make professional connections, and listen to concerns and experiences of the LGBTQ+ employee population. A way a company can help provide a safe environment for LGBTQ+ is to have a clear mission and stance in support of these employees. Diversity & Inclusion trainings for senior staff as well as a robust anti-discrimination and harassment policy can send a message to all employees of what is accepted in the workplace. These policies should convey the importance of these issues to the company ensure that they will take any complaints seriously. Supporting the local LGBTQ+ community by sponsoring Pride events or participating in Pride month activities can help LGBTQ+ employees feel recognized and included in company culture. Another important factor for LGBTQ+ employees is to have equal benefits for all employees and their partners. Ensure all policies do not unintentionally exclude the LGBTQ+ population.
Overall, making sure LGBTQ+ employees feel included and safe in the workforce should be a priority to employers if they wish to maintain their LGTBQ+ workforce as well as recruit future LGBTQ+ employees. While June tends to put the spotlight on the population, these practices should be used year-round to ensure the organization attracts and retains the best workforce.