LGBTQ+ Inclusion: a Guide for HR

The national findings underscore the persistence of workplace double standards and social isolation faced by LGBTQ+ people.

In A Workplace Divided: Understanding the Climate for LGBTQ+ Workers Nationwide, HRC Foundation researched the prevalence of LGBTQ+ workers feeling pressure to hide their sexual orientation and/or gender identity on the job and the cost of that hiding both to individuals and employers.  They also studied the benefits to employers and workers when workplace climates are more welcoming of LGBTQ+ people.

HRC Foundation found that:

  • 46% of LGBTQ+ workers say they are closeted at work, compared to 50% in HRCF’s groundbreaking 2008 Degrees of Equality report.
  • 1-in-5 LGBTQ+ workers report having been told or had coworkers imply that they should dress in a more feminine or masculine manner.
  • 53% of LGBTQ+ workers report hearing jokes about lesbian or gay people at least once in a while.
  • 31% of LGBTQ+ workers say they have felt unhappy or depressed at work; and the top reason LGBTQ+ workers don’t report negative comments they hear about LGBTQ+ people to a supervisor or human resources? They don’t think anything would be done about it — and they don’t want to hurt their relationships with coworkers.

Ensuring Workplace Inclusion for LGBTQ+ Employees

According to the Society of Human Resources (SHRM), in today’s workplace, ensuring that diversity, equity and inclusion efforts include individuals who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) is essential for business success. Employers that have inclusive practices for LGBTQ individuals gain the support and respect of not only that community, but also of other minority groups that recognize the efforts as an indicator of an overall inclusive work environment.

The majority of individuals in the U.S. support the LGBTQ+ community and seek out places to work and spend their money based on the DEI practices of the company. Employers see the positive impact in almost all aspects of business, from employee recruitment and retention to revenue and profits.  SHRM’s toolkit provides information and resources to help employers create a workplace that values the differences among individuals and where people can feel comfortable bringing their full selves to work.

The benefits of LGBTQ+ inclusion in the workplace

The benefits to an LGBTQ+ inclusive workplace extend beyond that of making sure employees of all sexualities and gender expressions feel safe and valid, though this is the primary reason. LGBTQ+ inclusive workplaces benefit businesses too in terms of productivity and profitability.

GLAAD – the world’s largest Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization conducted a study  ‘LGBT 2020 – LGBT Diversity Show Me the Business Case’ found that the U.S. economy could save $9 billion annually if organizations implemented more effective inclusion policies for their LGBTQ+ staff. This is partially attributed to avoiding costs from stress and ill-health associated with LGBTQ+ staff who need to hide their identity at work or experience discrimination. The study also cited the customer loyalty and buying power of the LGBTQ+ market. Additionally, customers are likelier to leave businesses who have cases of discrimination made public.

So, having robust inclusion strategies in place for LGBTQ+ staff make sense from a business perspective as well as an ethical standpoint. This is because all employees will feel less stressed and more productive as respected members of a cohesive team.

Strategies for LGBTQ+ inclusion in the workplace

Here are some key LGBTQ+ inclusion strategies that SMEs can consider adopting for a more LGBTQ+ friendly workforce:

1. Review your policies for LGBTQ+ inclusion

Having LGBTQ+ policies in the workplace is crucial for setting the guidelines on how to be more inclusive and avoid discrimination. LGBTQ+ inclusion should be a core part of your DEI strategic plan is an even clearer way to show your commitment to tackling discrimination and exclusion in this area. Also, make sure all your policies are LGBTQ+ inclusive, for example your policies on parental leave, adoption, and pensions.

2. Provide LGBTQ+ training and development opportunities

Offering LGBTQ+ training in the workplace as part of your DEI training plan can be a powerful way to educate everyone about LGBTQ+ issues. Training helps ensure your policies and initiatives are heard and understood across the organization.

3. Set up an LGBTQ+ employee resource group (ERG)

For companies committed to DEI and have a sustainable DEI strategic plan, creating an LGBTQ+ ERG  can be a great way to support employees. An LGBTQ+ ERG means employees can meet in a safe space within their place of work to relate to one another.  It also provides workplace LGBTQ+ allies a welcoming place to join and offer their support and friendship. As a focus group, ERG members can also help you identify and improve upon issues affecting LGBTQ+ employees, so you can continually improve your approach.

Book a call to learn more

Additional resources for HR leaders include:

  • Download the FREE E-book:The CHRO’s Guide to Advancing Workplace DEIBA Human Resource Leader’s Guide to Advancing Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging in the Workplace. DOWNLOAD HERE  
  • Join the Inclusive Leaders Group community for regular updates and DEI best practices tips. SIGN UP HERE

Inclusive Leaders Group, LLC: A Strategic Consulting Firm Specializing in Diversity, Equity, Inclusion (DEI) as a Business Strategy.

At Inclusive Leaders Group, we help leaders create safe, inclusive spaces that elevate employee engagement and performance to improve the business results and the communities they serve. Our clients rank among the top five markets with 98% action plan completion using our proven process to enhance and sustain results.

Inclusive Leaders Groups’ diverse SMEs will guide you through the development of progressive, evidence-based, business-driven DEI strategies to retain the best talent and increase employee engagement by 30% and overall satisfaction by 10% in one year.

ILG is a Certified Woman-Owned & Minority-Owned Business. Don’t go it alone with your DEI strategy. Go with the experts. VISIT US

As CEO and Principal Consultant of Inclusive Leaders Group, LLC, Charlotte Hughes MS, CDP, SHRBP, CPLP brings a diverse background as an accomplished Workforce and Organizational Development and  Diversity &  Inclusion global thought leader and practitioner for several major Fortune 100 companies and one of the largest health systems in the U.S.  Charlotte delivers more than 60 speeches and facilitates roughly the same number of training workshops each year.


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