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Creating an inclusive environment for LGBTQ+ employees year-round
29/06/2021
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Montreal Pride Parade 2019
Authors
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Pierce Blue
Pierce Blue is a senior attorney in the Morgan Lewis Workplace Culture practice group
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Sharon Masling
Sharon Masling is a partner in the Morgan Lewis Workplace Culture practice group

 

As we approach the end of Pride Month, it is a good time for employers to evaluate their diversity and inclusion practices for LGBTQ+ employees and ensure they create an inclusive and supportive environment for LGBTQ+ employees year-round.

Companies recognise that LGBTQ+ employees are a valuable resource and want them to feel comfortable and welcomed in the workplace. While there are a number of ways to achieve that goal, the most effective programmes integrate LGBTQ+ viewpoints and interests into a holistic programme of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). This includes programmes integrated throughout the talent cycle, such as those aimed at recruitment, retention, and advancement. It also encompasses reviews of leave and benefit policies to ensure equal coverage for LGBTQ+ individuals.

All companies can benefit from periodic evaluation of their DEI efforts in relation to the LGBTQ+ community, but for those starting their journey or looking to advance their DEI efforts, we recommend:

  • Make support public and visible: If an organisation wants to attract and retain LGBTQ+ talent, a good place to start is by displaying support for LGBTQ+ employees. This can include actions as simple as hosting Pride Month events, posting the company’s diversity and inclusion policy and intentions on its website, including LGBTQ+ in non-discrimination and anti-harassment policy statements, and prominently displaying on job announcements that the company welcomes LGBTQ+ applicants. Supportive messages from senior leadership are particularly effective as they demonstrate a corporate commitment to these efforts.
     
  • Establish a comprehensive DEI policy: LGBTQ+ inclusion should be part of a company’s broader efforts to create a welcoming environment for all employees. Developing a holistic DEI policy, including LGBTQ+ focused efforts, is a key part of that process.
     
  • Create and support LGBTQ+ employee resource groups: Employee resource groups (ERGs) are a valuable DEI tool, especially in the LGBTQ+ field. ERGs can serve as sounding boards for policy and areas of improvement. They can also connect employers to other LGBTQ+ resource groups that can serve as pipelines for talent recruitment. ERGs are also invaluable tools for connecting businesses with LGBTQ+ customers and ensuring companies are reaching everyone they can.
     
  • Develop LGBTQ+ inclusive workplace policies: Review the organisation’s general policies to ensure they meet the needs of the LGBTQ+ community. For example, does the company have a policy for employees who transition on the job? Is there a process in place for changing an email address or payroll record if an employee transitioned? Can a company’s employee systems accommodate individuals who are non-binary? Having these policies in place demonstrates a commitment to LGBTQ+ individuals and helps them feel comfortable coming forward, especially transgender employees. After all, no one likes to feel as though they are the first person to go through a process.
     
  • Review employee benefit plans for LGBTQ+ equality: Ensure that benefit plans are structured to support LGBTQ+ employees by extending benefits to domestic or same-sex partners and, to the extent possible, supporting LGBTQ+ health needs like fertility treatments, hormone treatments, transition surgeries, and other trans-inclusive care.

While we celebrate Pride each June, inclusion for LGBTQ+ employees is a year-round mission. Companies only stand to benefit by focusing on these issues and creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for LGBTQ+ persons.