Many employers are eager to create an LGBTQ+ inclusive workplace and will have taken initial steps towards this. However, good intentions are not enough to embed a truly inclusive culture, and employers need to implement practical actions to achieve inclusivity. Our June Supporters’ Network event discussed how employers can be better informed around the LGBTQ+ community, and how they can implement a more open culture in their workplace. This blog summarises the key points from the event and ends with a list of relevant resources and a full video recording.
What does LGBTQ+ mean?
Greater Manchester is home to more than 215,000 members of the LGBTQ+ community – this is larger than the population of Bury and similar to the population size of Rochdale, Oldham, or Tameside. Creating workplaces that are inclusive, and respectful to the LGBTQ+ community is imperative in creating positive working environments for all across Greater Manchester.
To start with, it’s important to understand the terminology that is often used.
- LGBTQ+: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer/Questioning, + (Intersex, Asexual, Pansexual)
- Lesbian: A woman who is physically, sexually or emotionally attracted to women.
- Gay: A man who is physically, sexually or emotionally attracted to men. However, sometimes this term is used more widely for lesbian and gay sexuality.
- Bisexual: Someone who is physically, sexually or emotionally attracted to more than one gender.
- Trans: A person whose gender is not the same as, or does not sit comfortably with, the gender they were assigned at birth.
- Queer: Often used by those wanting to reject specific labels of romantic orientation, sexual orientation, and/or gender identity.
- Questioning: The process of exploring your own sexual orientation, and/or gender identity.
- Intersex: A person who may have the biological attributes of both sexes, or whose attributes don’t fit with societal assumptions of what constitutes as male or female.
- Asexual: A person who does not experience sexual attraction.
- Pansexual: A person whose attraction towards others is not specific to sex or gender.
- Cis: Someone whose gender identity is the same as the sex they were assigned by birth.
- Ally: A straight and/or cis person who supports members of the LGBTQ+ community.
This information is gathered from Stonewall, please access this link to learn more.
This is important terminology for employers to know, to be able to recognise and support existing/future employees. Everyone deserves to have their identity, and their pronouns, respected and recognised in the workplace.
Pronouns frequently used include he/him/his, she/her/hers, and they/them/theirs – additionally, there are a number of gender-neutral pronouns that can be used (Read more). It is important to encourage employees to be comfortable sharing their pronouns – this can be verbal or facilitated through other means, such as on email signatures and ID badges.
This applies to colleagues who are part of the LGBTQ+ community, but also those who are not – specifying pronouns makes important steps in challenging gender assumptions and showing general solidarity. Try not to be afraid of making mistakes, but be aware of them when they happen, and keep making these efforts to get it right.
What support is available?
Providing LGBTQ+ awareness training in your workplace is fundamental to increasing awareness and establishing inclusion as a key organisational priority. There’s plenty of training courses already out there, such as from the LGBT Foundation and Stonewall.
There are also several specific guidance documents available – such as advice for managing transitioning colleagues, how to adopt gender neutral language in policies, and how to ensure the process to ensuring adoption policy provides parity with maternity leave. Engaging with this guidance to shape future policy is integral to addressing the needs of LGBTQ+ colleagues moving forward.
For establishing internal support, employer networks are a great avenue for this. These encourage employees to feel part of the LGBTQ+ network, whilst also increasing awareness of potential support available and opportunities to get involved. The use of employer networks can ensure that future initiatives are guided by your employees themselves, only strengthening their direction and purpose. This is applicable across all organisation sizes – for example there are wider networks available to SME’s, such as Building Equality in the construction sector, that have existing frameworks and resources that organisations can become a part of.
What should employers do next?
Alongside engaging with the support listed above, there are cultural changes that employers can develop. This is about more than putting a rainbow over a logo in isolation – this is about decisions like open celebrations of LGBTQ+ awareness events (e.g. Pride Month) and making public and visible statements about LGBTQ+ inclusion.
New employees coming into an organisation may be reluctant to share their sexuality or gender identity, potentially hurt from previous experiences in their employment. Making your organisation’s open and inclusive culture visible from the start will encourage them to be more comfortable – and your people are at their best and most productive when they can be themselves. These statements will make your workplace more attractive to new talent, improve business reputation, and will make current employees proud of their company values.
This isn’t about reinventing the wheel – this is about employers utilising the existing resources and support out there, and taking steps in the right direction to make change.
- Youtube Recording: LGBTQ+ in the Workplace Webinar
- Supporters Network Webinar: Slide Deck
- The LGBT Foundation: Resources
- The Proud Trust: Resources
- Stonewall: Best Practice, Toolkits and Resources
- Building Equality: Resources (Includes guidance on allyship in the workplace)
- AutoTrader: LGBT resources
- Gendered Intelligence: Trans Awareness Training
- Manchester Pride: The All Equals Charter