Everyone can make their workplace more LGBT inclusive – and here’s how

In June, Stonewall were delighted to attend CIPD’s Festival of Work conference and deliver a workshop on LGBT-inclusive workplaces. Sarah Campbell, Head of Conferences and Events at Stonewall talks about the session, top tips, and how the audience responded.

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of attending the CIPD’s inaugural Festival of Work conference. As part of their inclusion workshop I was thrilled to share some of our insights into how to make a workplace LGBT-inclusive, and what that can mean to LGBT staff and allies.

The environment at the conference was brilliant, and we loved seeing so many people come together to learn and share ways to make their workplaces more accepting for LGBT people. It’s great to know that the CIPD are so committed to creating more inclusive workplaces and helping their members understand the huge benefits of investing in diversity and inclusion.

The workshop brought together a group of people all excited to learn what they could implement in their organisations. We often hear from people who want to know what they can do to in their workplaces, so here are some top tips for how to make your workplace more LGBT inclusive:

- Learn about the issue

LGBT people still face discrimination in many areas of their everyday life. Our research shows that over a third of LGBT staff (35%) have hidden that they are LGBT at work for fear of discrimination. A good starting place to finding out how you can help is learning more about what your LGBT colleagues might be going through.

- Run an event or campaign

Everyone can benefit from learning about new things at work and running an LGBT event can be a great way to engage people in inclusion and help them understand more. Hosting a film screening, getting an interesting internal or external speaker in to talk about their work or holding an Equali-Tea are all simple ways to start conversations about LGBT inclusion in your workplace.

- Visibly demonstrate your commitment to inclusion

When you visibly signal that you are an ally and your workplace is inclusive you can make a real difference to someone. This could include wearing a rainbow lanyard, putting your pronouns in your email signature or sending emails about interesting events at other organisations in your sector. At Stonewall, we call these the ‘little big things’ - small changes that make a real difference.

But when you visibly signal that you are an ally to the LGBT community, be prepared to have conversations and challenge others – another reason why it’s so important to have taken the time to learn about the issues.

- Check your workplace policies

Having strong and inclusive policies is a key way to let LGBT employees know that they are safe and supported in your workplace. In your bullying and harassment policy, do you explicitly reference homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying and harassment, and are people able to report their concerns to someone they trust? Does your family policy include same-sex parents and trans people? If not, think about who you can talk to in your organisation to change them.

- Get your colleagues on board

To change the culture of a workplace and make meaningful changes for all your LGBT staff, you’ll need your senior colleagues and HR team to be on board with LGBT inclusion. Think about who in your organisation can support you to make this a priority. It’s crucial to get buy-in from senior leaders and HR, but everyone in the workplace has a role to play. Think about why this matters to you, but also why it should matter to everyone at work – as well as how it aligns with your values as an organisation.

There were some fantastic discussions on the day, and people gave some great feedback about their own experiences. We discussed the importance of using language around identities, and how businesses can make themselves visible allies for the LGBT community. What really stood out to me was how passionate the group was to bring real change back to their organisations.

This past Pride month, we’ve seen a lot of difficult headlines for the LGBT community. We’ve heard homophobic comments from people in public office, a continuing divisive debate on trans rights and protests about whether it’s appropriate for primary school children to learn about families with two mums or two dads. We’ve seen new research about difficulties that LGBT people face in the workplace, and we’ve seen horrible attacks on LGBT people in the streets and online, simply for being who they are.
Now more than ever, we need visible and proud allies to stand up for the LGBT community and help us to push further towards equality. Organisations, businesses and workplaces can play a huge role in helping this fight, both by making sure that their LGBT staff feel empowered to be themselves, and by helping to campaign for equality.

Watch the highlights from the CIPD Festival of Work inclusion workshop on LGBT identities at work here.

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