2018 was a great year for the LGBT community in India as the Supreme Court passed the landmark judgement of decriminalizing homosexuality in the country. Under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, the court laid emphasis on the fundamental right of homosexual people to live with dignity and enjoy equal rights under the constitution of India.
For a long time before this, the LGBT community was being subjected to unwarranted discrimination, especially at workplaces.
According to GLAAD, “more than 40% of lesbian, gay, and bisexual people and almost 90% of transgender people have experienced employment discrimination, harassment or mistreatment.”
With the above rule of law officially in place, the situation is expected to improve tremendously. Here are some proof-backed facts about how creating an LGBT-inclusive workplace is good for the company and what steps one should take to make a workplace LGBT-friendly!
Make LGBT Inclusiveness a Part Of Your Workplace Hiring Strategy
Awareness regarding the rights of the LGBT community is on the rise and creating an LGBT-inclusive workplace is the need of the hour. Cultivating a sensitized work environment by changing old mindsets through meaningful interactions with the LGBT community and laying out a proper plan which includes them will work well for the workplace overall.
Companies that provide an environment where employees can be themselves, helps them become more productive. It leads to better work commitment and increased job satisfaction. Workplace inclusion, in fact, contributes positively to the bottom line of a company as well. It is not just the right thing to do, it is great for the P/L account of the company too!
Here are some benefits of having a workplace that is LGBT-inclusive:
1. They Help Attract and Retain Top Talent:
LGBT individuals obviously are inclined towards companies that promote bringing their original selves to work, in an environment where they are not judged and are treated equally. But the appeal of LGBT inclusivity expands beyond the LGBT individuals.
Non-LGBT employees are increasingly favouring companies who practise LGBT inclusiveness, who have formal policies in place, promoting inclusivity. Inclusive workplaces help the existing employees stay engaged and committed, and are more attractive to potential talent. Employees have a positive environment to reach their full potential. Many companies also have Ally Campaigns in place under which group discussions take place.
Non-LGBT employees want to be allied with the LGBT community because their transgender relatives or friends have been bullied. LGBT inclusive workplaces help retain and attract some great talent.
2. They Get More Business:
According to Brandon Gaille, LGBT people have around 790$ bn in purchasing power, and 23% of them have “switched products or services in the past year because a different company was supportive of the LGBT community.”
To add to this, 71% would stay loyal to a company that was LGBT-friendly, even if purchasing that company’s products was less convenient or more costly. That’s a great business opportunity right there!
Another study by Ogilvy found that the majority of the LGBT and non-LGBT employees would avoid purchasing products and services from companies they perceived as unsupportive of the LGBT community.
One of the reports called Business Success and Growth Through LGBT-inclusive culture found that publicly-held companies that follow LGBT inclusiveness have seen their stock prices increase by an average 6.5% when compared with their industry peers. An inclusive policy can improve a company’s bottom line and help them get more business!
3. They Have Less Turnover:
Employees spend the maximum amount of time at work and workplaces that don’t support the LGBT community may experience high levels of stress and anxiety resulting in health problems and work-related complaints. LGBT-friendly policies have a positive effect on individuals, resulting in less discrimination and increased openness about being LGBT.
All of this will have have a multifold positive effect and will lead to improved health, better relationships with coworkers and supervisors, increased job satisfaction and greater work commitment amongst the LGBT workers. Companies who promote LGBT inclusiveness, in turn, enjoy better retention rates and will have a more loyal employee base.
How to Make Your Workplace LGBT-friendly?
1. Set Policies:
The first and foremost step that a company should take is to set up specific policies that define your company’s stand on LGBT rights. But that is just the first step. The real onus of policy comes into play when its implemented well, which is why you need to make sure that you are very clear about what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour at your company, and establish procedures for dealing with people who violate your policies.
It is of utmost importance to follow through on those processes while making sure that any incidences of harassment or discrimination are taken very seriously. While you are at it, consider changing your employee benefits too, to include LGBT employees and their families.
2. Re-establish Hiring Strategies:
Having a policy is great, but what if your hiring strategy itself does not give the right message? Re-evaluate your job ads and check for any signs of unconscious bias in the recruitment process.
Also, express your unconditional commitment to equality and diversity and talk about how your company has specific LGBT-friendly benefits that are the underlying base of this commitment.
Ensure your interview and selection process is also transparent and fair with no room for bias. Support LGBT recruitment events and partner with LGBT employee networks around you.
Effective communication is at the heart of any workplace. You need to find ways for communicating your firm’s commitment to |LGBT inclusiveness and follow the same amongst your employees too.
Every business communication including presentations, speeches, newsletters and in fact personal conversations too, should speak of your commitment towards the LGBT community.
4. Provide Training:
One of the ways to help the LGBT community feel welcome at your workplace is to train your non-LGBT employees to always treat them with respect. Realigning your hiring strategies won’t do any good if the new employees do not receive a positive work environment once they arrive.
It’s great to provide some hands-on diversity training to your employees that includes a module on sexual orientation and gender identity. Most people won’t sit and read long policies, but helping them learn and understand the benefits of including LGBT employees in the workplace will go a long way.
LGBT inclusiveness is the top priority of companies across the globe because it enables workforce participation of diverse communities. This will help inject new ideas and perspectives into a company, foster a better decision-making process and remove barriers that kill innovation, leadership, and initiative.