2022 was a landmark year for the LGBTQIA+ community in the UK as we celebrated 50 years of Pride. LGBTQIA+ has seen one of the most dramatic transformations in public perception in post-war Britain.
If you look at the British Social Attitudes Survey in 1987—a survey conducted at the height of the AIDS epidemic—an estimated 75% of the public stated that a same-sex relationship was ‘mostly’ or ‘always’ wrong. These perceptions were often fuelled by homophobic reporting and sensationalists.
Today we see a sizable shift in public attitude as the UK population is more likely to support the LGBTQIA+ community. In fact, 85% of Britons stated that they would support a family member who came out as gay, lesbian, or bisexual while 71% would also support a person who identified as transgender or non-binary.
While these figures are indeed promising, there is still a lot of work to be done—especially when it comes to LGBTQIA+ discrimination in the workplace. According to Stonewall, many LGBT employees are hesitant to reveal their status in the professional landscape for fear of discrimination.
So how can organisations avoid LGBTQIA+ discrimination in the workplace? Here’s a closer look at some ways that can help your employees feel safe, included, and respected.
Don’t overlook slurs
Language is an important tool. It is our words that define us and the way we understand and explain the world around us. But when we appropriate a single word that many use to describe identity and turn it into a derogatory insult, there can be devastating consequences.
Many of these insults are used to describe the LGBTQIA+ community—even by those who don’t consider themselves to be homophobic. But every time a colleague, manager, or subordinate stays silent it validates the use of these terms that harm the LGBTQIA+ community.
Whether such terms are used in the privacy of an office or between two colleagues in a casual way, such language should not be tolerated under any circumstances. Employers must, therefore, implement strict policies in place to ensure that derogatory terms aren’t used and should also empower employees to stand up against such language rather than overlooking such slurs.
You can also encourage inclusive language as a way to help employees understand the unintentional mistakes they may be making in their language and how they address people.
Develop an LGBTQIA+ network
There are a number of ways to create an LGBTQIA+ network, but whichever way you decide the goal is simple—support LGBTQIA+ employees.
Your network should have clear resources, responsibilities, and goals. Plus, it should be supported 100% at the highest level. For this to work, it’s important to understand what works well for them and you need to identify the areas in your workplace that need to have a new approach. However, don’t use this as an excuse to put the entire burden of making your company inclusive on them. This is only a step to give them a voice and improve representation.
Ensure that you include everyone in the network—whether they’re LGBTQIA+ or not. The network should help establish an organisation-wide culture that highlights the importance of every employee taking action. Having an LGBTQIA+ network can be especially helpful if you’re at the initial stages of implementing a DEI strategy.
Inclusive hiring practices
One of the best ways to avoid LGBTQIA+ discrimination in the workplace is to make sure that your organisation is filled with people who share your same vision for an inclusive workplace. The message you send out to the public is a crucial way of achieving this.
For instance, if you’re hiring for a vacant position, then make sure that there are LGBTQIA+ professionals who are involved in the shortlisting and hiring process. With studies showing that diverse workplaces are more likely to outperform their competitors, it’s important to build a diverse and inclusive workplace for the longevity of the organisation.
Final thoughts on LGBTQIA+ discrimination in the workplace from Kinhub
As long as there are employees in the workplace who are controlled by their phobia of revealing their true selves, it is the responsibility of every employee and employer to stand up and fight against discrimination.
Aside from implementing initiatives to create safe and empowering workplaces, employers must speak up for the rights of every employee and their right to bring their authentic selves to work.