News 17th June 2019 2 minutes read

Four steps to improving LGBTQ+ inclusion in the workplace

With Pride Month already well underway, now’s the perfect time to focus on the issue of LGBTQ+ inclusion in the workplace. It’s a subject that Green Park’s Senior Diversity & Inclusion Consultant, Nicola Paul, deals with every day, as she helps organisations develop and implement long-lasting and inspiring change.

With a background in the retail and legal sectors plus a Master’s degree in Intercultural Communication, Nicola bases her insight on practical experience and the latest expert thinking. So, why is LGBTQ+ inclusion so important at work? And what happens when people feel obliged to hide who they really are?

“If you have to suppress a fundamental part of your personality, you can’t be yourself or the best person that you can be. And that can have serious consequences not only for you, but also for your employer. For example, depression and anxiety often affect people who feel they need to hide who they are or whom they love. Organisations have more work to do to ensure that everyone feels free to be themselves – and to celebrate those who feel able to speak proudly about who they are.”

The good news is that more organisations than ever are keen to create a more open, LGBTQ+-friendly workplace. However, off-the-shelf, one-size-fits-all solutions won’t solve the problem. Instead, Nicola recommends a four-step process to bring about wholesale cultural change.

  1. Create the right climate within the organisation. This could be via an employee network where people are free to discuss LGBTQ+ issues and support one another. It could also be via senior leaders speaking up and setting the tone. People at this level have more of an impact on a company than almost any other individual. If leaders take an interest and broaden their perspective, they will act as role models and others will follow suit.

  2. Build up a picture of how attractive the organisation is to the LGBTQ+ community as an employer. Use existing data on employee management systems, or consider collecting information in employee surveys. Use this data on a macro level to gauge perceptions of the organisation – are there any concerns or biases?

  3. Analyse the data generated by the research in step number two. Identify where problems lie and create a strategy to address them.

  4. The fourth step is to put the strategy into place. And that means being bold enough to turn recommendations into action. Perhaps you need to add specialisms to the Employee Assistance Programme to help people come out at work, or maybe expert coaches could provide support.

Although Nicola warns that skipping steps one to three is unlikely to be effective, she says that there are some basic changes that all organisations can make, such as making sure that HR policies include and acknowledge the LGBTQ+ community.

However, the key for Nicola is bringing the organisation on the journey as changes are made. Only by moving forward as one, can organisations create the inclusivity that will lead to a diverse workplace.

 

 

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Green Park Interim & Executive Limited. Registered in England and Wales. Registered office: 54 Brook's Mews, W1K 4EF.
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