Are you looking for ways to support your LGBTQIA+ employees? If so, answer this question:
What’s the first thing that pops into your mind when you think of the word “inclusive”?
Maybe it’s a rainbow flag, a Pride Parade, or simply a move toward employee representation.
But I want to encourage you to look further than your boardroom and your Equal Opportunity Employment requirements.
Being inclusive is more than a shift in your branding.
Most CEOs, when they hear the word inclusive, immediately think of their company. They might survey their team, look at their marketing, and even increase their optics on social media and in print. However, none of these decisions do anything to increase inclusion. If anything, they do more harm than good.
Creating an inclusive workplace is not about jumping on an agenda or being the standard of tolerance within your genre.
It’s more than virtue signaling.
If you want to support your LGBTQIA+ employees, they need to know that your concern is centered on compassion; not manipulation.
So, what are some practical ways that you can provide support for your LGBTQIA+ employees? Here are 10 ways that you can start this month.
1. Invite People to Be Themselves
If you want to be supportive of someone, you need to know more than their name, their job title, and pronouns. These are basic facets that make us human. Support requires you to delve deeper. And this means that you need to talk with your team more than once a year at their annual review.
If you want to let your LGBTQIA+ employees know that you are there for them, then be willing to get to know them.
People need to feel like they are known. And one of the best ways that you can do that is to pay attention to how they want to be seen. Remember, it’s not about what makes you feel accepted. It’s about respecting someone else’s life enough to place yourself in their shoes.
So, invite your team to be themselves. Ask your employees to speak, sing, or pantomime at the next meeting. Whatever they like to do, give them the chance to showcase their abilities and be a part of the culture at work. Invite them to bring their whole selves to work and give them opportunities to be celebrated.
2. Put Yourself in the Hot Seat
One of the easiest ways that you can learn more about your team is to share about yourself.
Yep. That’s right. You need to place yourself on the hot seat, be willing to be a bit vulnerable, and invite your team to get to know you. People like to cheer for the underdog. So, if you admit that you’re a leader willing to learn alongside your team, you open the doors of communication and equal support.
Now, putting yourself in the hot seat doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to stand in front of your office and pull questions from a fishbowl. But you can, if that works for you.
This meet-and-greet is about you, your business, and what works best for your specific work environment.
If you’re a casual startup, have a craft beer night after hours, share a bit about yourself, and reveal one area where you hope to improve your leadership. If you’re a high-end financial company, host a get-together with some wine and cheese. Figure out what works best for your team, and then create an event that makes them the most comfortable.
3. Stumble towards Progress; Not Perfection.
You won’t always get it right, say the perfect thing, or create an environment that supports every employee. But, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try––If anything, you should try hard.
Your LGBTQIA+ team members don’t expect you to get it right all the time. But they do expect their workplace to be a safe space––even if you’re learning what that exactly means. So, if you want to support your LGBTQIA+ employee, remember these 3 tips:
- Invite People to Be Themselves
- Put Yourself in the Hot Seat
Stumble towards Progress; Not Perfection.
4. Encourage Questions and Conversation
Providing a safe space for your team is about more than just creating an environment of acceptance. It’s also about encouraging questions and conversations that will help foster understanding and collaboration.
So, create opportunities where employees can ask questions and have productive conversations with one another. This could be anything from a monthly book club to an open forum where everyone can share their thoughts. Or you could host diversity-focused discussion groups with your team.
Whatever it is, make sure that the goal of these conversations focuses on learning and understanding rather than judging or forcing one’s opinion onto someone else.
5. Provide Resources for Education and Training
Educating yourself and your team on the issues that LGBTQIA+ employees face in the workplace is an important part of creating an environment of inclusion. So, take some time to research and find resources that you can use to educate yourself and your team.
This could be anything from inviting a professional speaker or consultant to come in and talk with your team to hosting webinars or workshops. It could also mean looking into free online courses, podcasts, and books that focus on workplace diversity and inclusion.
6. Make it Clear That Harassment is Not Tolerated
It’s one thing to create an environment of acceptance, but it’s another to make sure that your team knows that harassment of any kind will not be tolerated.
So, make sure that you have a clear and concise policy in place that outlines the types of behavior you expect from your team. Make sure to emphasize the fact that LGBTQIA+ employees should feel safe at work and that any type of discrimination or harassment will not be tolerated.
7. Celebrate LGBTQIA+ Events and Holidays
One way to show your support for your LGBTQIA+ employees is by celebrating the events and holidays that are important to them. This could be anything from hosting a “Pride Month” celebration in June to recognizing Transgender Day of Remembrance or International Pronouns Day. The point is to show your team that you care about them by taking the time to recognize and celebrate events that are important to them.
8. Create a Support Group or Network
Having a support group or network that’s specifically for LGBTQIA+ employees can be an invaluable resource for them. This could be anything from an online forum to a local organization, but the key is that it provides a safe space where people can come together and talk about their experiences and offer each other support.
9. Provide Benefits and Resources That Are LGBTQIA+-Inclusive
When providing benefits for your employees, make sure to consider the needs of your LGBTQIA+ team members as well. This could mean offering partner health insurance or creating a retirement plan that allows couples of any gender combination to save together. Additionally, look into other resources such as legal assistance, mental health counseling, and career networking opportunities that are LGBTQIA+-inclusive.
10. Be Vocal About Your Support
Finally, make sure to be vocal about your support of your LGBTQIA+ employees. This could mean sharing articles or stories on social media, speaking at events that are focused on workplace inclusion, or simply talking to your team about why diversity and inclusion are important.
No matter how you do it, being vocal about your support for LGBTQIA+ employees is a great way to show them that you truly care about their well-being and success.
These are just some of the ways you can start supporting your LGBTQIA+ employees this month. By investing in education, creating safe spaces, celebrating events, and providing resources, you can create an environment of acceptance and inclusivity. As a CEO, it’s up to you to set the tone for your organization – so take these steps today and show your team that their voices matter.