What Companies Can Do to Support LGBTQ Employees

What Companies Can Do to Support LGBTQ Employees was originally published on Firsthand.

Larger companies, such as multinational corporations, exist not only to provide a product or a service, or to drive profits for their investors, but they also have a role to play on the world stage. Large corporations can influence public opinion across the globe with their stance on any number of social issues, along with their advertising and charitable endeavors; however, it is far too easy for a company to simply say they take a stance on either side of an issue, without ever really doing anything.

When it comes to LGBTQ employees, what should a company be doing to provide support? Is updating a company logo during Pride Month or making relevant social media posts enough? Sure, a company saying they support LGBTQ employees might seem like a step in the right direction at first glance, but what are they really doing? Let’s take a look at some things that companies can do to show support.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Initiatives

Ah yes, the DEI initiatives. We’ve talked a bit about these already, so if you’d like some more information about what DEI initiatives in the workplace are, you can read our previous blog here. Many companies have put DEI practices into place over the last few years, in order to combat workplace discrimination and build more diverse talent pools. A more diverse workforce can lead to innovative practices by way of various and differing perspectives on problems and solutions.

Implementing DEI initiatives can be an order coming from the top down, or through employee engagement with the leadership team. For example, while some companies may develop their own DEI initiatives during a board meeting, others may be acting upon overwhelming employee feedback in the absence of such practices. Whichever the case may be, a company with DEI initiatives in place is already doing far more than another company that only makes weekly social media posts about Pride topics during the month of June.

Employee Resource Groups

Employee resource groups (ERGs) are a great way for a company to show its support to its associates. Similar to DEI initiatives, ERGs can be built from the top down, or through the suggestions of a company’s employees. In the context of today’s topic, LGBTQ resource groups can be used to provide support for LGBTQ employees, as well as drive positive employee engagement.

Perhaps the best part about ERGs is that they are often employee-run, which eliminates that cold, sterile “corporate” feeling that can be hard to ignore with some workplace programs. Members of LGBTQ ERGs may schedule events, or provide information that is readily available to non-members who wish to be allies. This creates a workplace environment that is comfortable for all employees, regardless of their orientation. If your employer does not offer ERGs, it might be worth bringing up to a Human Resources representative – if enough people come out in support of ERGs, your employer may give you the go-ahead to create some. When bringing up ERGs to your employer, focus on aspects such as employee retention, positive engagement, and stronger working relationships.

Leading by Example

The last one on our list is all about the leadership team. Sure, DEI initiatives and ERGs will help to create more diverse leadership teams in the future, but what about now? It is important for those in leadership roles to allow themselves to feel vulnerable in light of issues they may not fully understand. Asking questions and seeking the information needed to be educated goes a long way.

Rather than feeling awkward or afraid to engage LGBTQ topics, those in leadership roles should take the time to sit in on some LGBTQ ERG meetings or events, with the intent to learn and understand. The key word here is “intent” – as LGBTQ employees will see this as a step towards positive change and will help those who truly want to learn,..ehem…learn. LGBTQ employees will feel more motivated in a workplace that is accepting and that allows them to be themselves, and if they have a manager or boss who is sympathetic to their own struggles.

Social media posts and temporary company logos might seem like enough on the outside, but it’s important for any employer to recognize and support its diverse team of employees, as this will build lasting relationships, provide positive motivation, and drive employee engagement. A company’s success relies heavily on the abilities of its employees, and with a diverse and highly motivated talent pool, the sky is the limit.

By Rob Porter - Firsthand
Firsthand
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