LGBT Equality in the Workplace: Why You Need it & How to Create it

October is LGBT History Month, a time in which people across the United States take time to recognize the great strides the LGBT community has made over the years. In terms moving towards equality, many changes have been made to legislation to ensure fair treatment for all employees, but we’re not quite there yet.

The LGBT Community Still Faces Workplace Discrimination
  • 40% of lesbian, gay, and bisexual people globally say they’ve been discriminated against by an employer.
  • 90-97% of transgender people say the same.
Discrimination Comes in Two Main Forms

1) Harassment: Just as any other individual may face sexual harassment, the LGBT community sadly endures it as well. This may include comments about a person’s sexual activity or their mannerisms, as well as darker behaviors, such as touching, demanding sexual favors, or making harsh comments about a person’s orientation.

2) Different Treatment: When members of the LGBT community are treated differently by employers, it’s not always done in an overt way. The person may be overlooked for a promotion, disciplined for an offense that someone else may not be, fired, refused a job, or ostracized by other employees.

Anyone Can Discriminate

It’s important to note that anyone can be responsible for LGBT discrimination. Customers may refuse to be served by an individual or may make fraudulent complaints. Employees may not include people in groups or may request to be assigned different partners. Company management may also be involved, whether by acting in a discriminatory way or by failing to focus on workplace equality.

Ending Discrimination isn’t Just Good Ethics; it’s Good Business

The Williams Institute researched how having supportive policies and measures in place impacts the business as a whole. Interestingly, this only provides a small reduction in discrimination, but it has a huge impact in other areas, including:

  • Increased Productivity
  • Better Workplace Relationships
  • Increased Job Satisfaction
  • Better Health
  • Greater Commitment

Interestingly, 10% of people in the LGBT community report having left a job simply because they didn’t feel welcome. This, in and of itself, is a huge cause for concern. Aside from the ethical implications, this hurts the business, as employers must find, hire, and train people to fill these spaces. When policies are implemented, LGBT employees are happier, more productive, and have more commitment to the company. Undoubtedly, this has a drastic effect on that person’s output, but it also carries over into the morale of other employees.

How to Create a Non-Discrimination Policy

Your company policy should speak to its values and the company attitude, and should include the following:

  • Clear and descriptive language about what will not be tolerated.
  • A chain of consequences for those who engage in prohibited behavior.
  • A process for people who feel they’ve been discriminated against as well as protection from retaliation.
  • An HR plan for following up on discrimination reports.

If you’d like assistance establishing anti-discrimination policies or combating existing issues within your company, we can help. Contact us for more information today.

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