Contributed by: Wood Mackenzie, A Verisk Business
It's no secret, people perform better in the workplace when they are accepted without exception.
As a result, organisations have a distinct responsibility to ensure their LGBT+ employees are encouraged to reach their full potential by fostering an inclusive and respectful workplace culture.
In 2018, UK LGBT+ charity Stonewall conducted a study that reached some startling conclusions. According to the research, many LGBT+ staff still don't feel comfortable with disclosing their identity at work. Even worse, those who do are often subject to discrimination. In fact, the numbers revealed that almost 1 in 5 (18%) LGBT+ employees were the target of negative conduct from colleagues in the past year. Shockingly, 1 in 8 (12%) trans people had been the victim of a physical assault in the workplace.
More recently, Stonewall research revealed that many LGBT+ people still face significant barriers to leading healthy, happy and fulfilling lives. Among the findings, half of LGBT+ people have experienced depression and 3 in 5 have suffered from anxiety in the past year. This exceeds estimates for the population at-large. These findings underline the importance of proactive work carried out by organisations to effectively meet the needs of LGBT+ people.
So, how can you ensure your workplace is LGBT+ inclusive?
Creating awareness and talking about LGBT+ issues is an important way to challenge ignorance. For example, Wood Mackenzie marked World AIDS Day 2018 globally with fundraising events in all of our major offices. This included awareness sessions to learn more about HIV/AIDS. We managed to raise a combined total of $4.800.00 (US), all of which was donated to local charities supporting efforts to end HIV stigma.
2. Create a LGBT+ Network Group
Creating a group that facilitates a collaborative approach to diversity is a great way to support LGBT+ employees. It's a good idea to make these groups open to non-LGBT+ employees too, especially those who identify as allies. The Wood Mackenzie Pride group, which was launched in 2017, has been a fantastic way for global offices to deliver a collaborative approach to outreach, education and engagement.
3. Inclusive Internal Policies
Without watertight policies that are fully and explicitly inclusive of LGBT+ employees, companies run the risk of discriminating against their employees. Policies that should be reviewed and amended include maternity and paternity leave (including adoption), pension, and health insurance, among a number of others.
4. Attend Important LGBT+ Events
Where possible, it's important to support LGBT+ employees and allies who wish to take part in important LGBT+ events. This backing needs to come from the top, down - - - to set an example for all employees. Having visibility at annual Pride parades, which take place in nearly 60 separate locations, is a great way to show your employees that you support them, no matter who they are.
5. Consistent Communication
Whether it's news articles on your company's website or regular internal updates, communication is key. Channels available to communicate about LGBT+ issues and awareness efforts can include newsletters, chat forums, and social media channels. For example, in 2018 Wood Mackenzie published a piece of editorial that asked some of its LGBT+ employees and allies what Pride means to them and why it’s so important in today’s society. This was shared with Wood Mackenzie's internal network, on Wood Mackenzie's social media profiles, and in Stonewall's 'Diversity Champions' newsletter. With great feedback both internally and externally, this was a useful way to create a sense of belonging and community.
Laura Hawksworth is the Global PR Manager for Wood Mackenzie.