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LGBTQ inclusive workplaces – and how to shape them

Posted June 2nd 2021 by Ciara

LGBTQ inclusive workplaces: tips and ideas

LGBTQ inclusive Workplaces

We do lots of work supporting community groups and organisations to work in different, inclusive ways. In this blog Ciara and Leon reflect on the Mum Friendly Workplaces and Queer Families projects, and what workplaces can do. We hope you find these ideas helpful!

The importance of LGBTQ friendly workplaces

‘There are so many benefits to having an LGBTQ friendly workplace. Not only will it be a safer and more welcoming environment for staff, but your organisation will benefit from the insight of different perspectives. I always feel lucky to work for an organisation that allows me to bring my full self to work. So we’re sharing some tips on how to make your workplace more inclusive for LGBTQ people!’

Ongoing learning and training

‘Inviting LGBTQ organisations to give your organisation training is a good way to educate staff about LGBTQ issues and barriers in the workplace. Often, people have good intentions but are worried about saying the wrong thing. Training can be a good way to provide a safe space for people to ask questions.

Timing is important too. I once worked somewhere where LGBTQ inclusivity training was available- but only on the weekend and on an opt in basis. This meant the people who would have really benefitted from the training didn’t go. Pick a day you know most people will be available so that everyone can benefit.’

Inclusive policies

‘Look at your policies to see how inclusive they are. Do you have a parental leave policy that will work for LGBTQ families? Is there support available for staff transitioning? Is the language used inclusive? These are all things to consider when shaping your workplace policies.

For example, our workplace Menopause Policy reflects cis and trans people’s experiences of menopause. This helps make sure nobody affected by the policy is left out or unsupported. Scottish Trans have a helpful guide to workplace inclusion for non-binary people, written for employers and service-providers.

Sometimes it takes a bit more research, or asking different people for their feedback. Sometimes law and policy do affect LGBTQ people differently – or are gendered in ways which don’t reflect everyone. Think about how your workplace policies might affect different people as you create them. It’s much easier when inclusion isn’t an afterthought! But if you notice existing policies aren’t very inclusive, deciding to update them can be a great chance to talk about becoming more LGBTQ-friendly.’

Workplace Culture

‘This is one of the most important things for creating an inclusive workplace, but often the hardest to define or change. I’ve worked places where there were rainbow posters on the wall but homophobic comments went unchallenged and were part of the every day office ‘banter’.

Using inclusive language and not making assumptions are important starts. Try not to assume that everyone you work with is straight by default, and ask open questions that don’t assume a persons gender or sexuality. Adding pronouns to email signatures is becoming more common across different organisations. Adding yours can be a good way to signal inclusivity, if you’re comfortable sharing them.’

The work you do

‘Consider the events and groups you run- could you do something for Pride month? Do you use examples of LGBTQ people in your trainings?

One time I felt included was during a training session with Third Sector Lab, and one of the slides in their slideshow featured an example with a gay couple. Even though it was only a brief moment in the training, it showed they had considered LGBTQ people and were an inclusive space. Consider if the work you do takes into account LGBTQ lives and the unique experiences and issues they face. An intersectional approach will make your work more inclusive and beneficial for the people you work with.

We supported the Queer Families peer group to share what they want health, care and support organisations to know and do. If you work with families, the Advice for services working with LGBTQ families guide might be useful! LGBT Youth Scotland also have helpful guides for LGBTQ inclusion in care settings, and resources for schools.’

Be there for your LGBTQ+ coworkers

‘The recent LGBT working lives and inclusion report from CIPD shares recent research and recommendations around LGBT+ experiences at work. It highlights how often LGBT+ employees experience harassment in the workplace, and many of the barriers which come up in policy and practice.

This leads to an important point – even when your workplace is supportive and inclusive, LGBT+ people may be affected by discrimination in different ways. It might come up in interactions with community members, or in life outside work – for example accessing healthcare. Especially when there are negative media conversations going on, you could check in with your co-workers to see how they’re doing and show you care.

To be our full, complex selves at work, peer acceptance and support make a huge difference. Even if you can’t effect policy change in your workplace, you can definitely try to be there for the people you work with.’

Share your thoughts

Do you have any tips of your own to add or good practice examples to share? Share your ideas by contacting us on Twitter or emailing ciara@otbds.org.

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