Today’s LGBTQ workforce has undergone a critical shift in what they demand from organizations. The expectation of workplace inclusion can be seen in how diverse today’s workforce is, especially among the younger generations. Not all organizations are using best practices, however. Many individuals continually experience barriers due to prejudice and discrimination both in the application process and during work. Raising awareness is the first step in creating an inclusive work culture.
Studies show that having diverse teams can help drive innovation and critical thinking when dealing with difficult tasks. And it’s true - people work better when they hear from different perspectives. Each team member brings unique insights from their own experiences to collaborate in a creative way. What LGBTQ workers bring to the job is their resilience, courage, and strong leadership styles. They can empathize with those who struggle from a hostile work environment, and strive to include all employees when they’re in management positions. Each and every organization can benefit from having a diverse and inclusive team.
The main problems that LGBTQ workers face are discrimination and a lack of job security. Many are at a disadvantage when applying for jobs because implicit bias can play a big role in the decisions of the hiring managers. Currently, there are no federal laws that protect LGBTQ workers when they’re faced with prejudice and microaggressions. And this happens quite often - more than 40% of lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals, and almost 90% of transgender persons have experienced discrimination in the workplace, harassment, or mistreatment by co-workers and managers. The Supreme Court ruling that passed last year should, in theory, be a huge step in the right direction. There, however, are still many gaps that need to be addressed with the new ruling. These include a lack of health benefits, enforcement of dress codes, and the lack of appropriate bathrooms. These microaggressions are more subtle yet as devastating as explicit discrimination.
Fortunately, there are a number of things leaders can do to make their organizations more LGBTQ-inclusive. First, they must bring awareness to queerness and why it’s important to be authentic. They should listen and take action when employees speak out about issues of discrimination and prejudice. There should also be support systems in place for those who may be feeling isolated such as an HR team that’s dedicated to addressing these types of issues. Diversity and inclusion should always be included in the mission of the organization so that the concept is deeply embedded into the culture and working style of each individual employee.
Graves, L. (2018). Issue at a glance: LGBTQ employment discrimination. Victory Institute. Retrieved from https://victoryinstitute.org/issue-at-a-glance-lgbtq-employment-discrimination/
Levesley, D. (2020). 8 steps leaders can make to make their workplace more LGBTQ-inclusive. The Muse. Retrieved from https://www.themuse.com/advice/steps-leaders-can-take-make-workplaces-more-lgbtq-inclusive
The Associated Press. (2020). Even with ruling, workplace still unequal for LGBTQ workers. NBC News. Retrieved from https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/even-ruling-workplace-still-unequal-lgbtq-workers-n1231419