Redefining diversity: Steps towards an LGBTQI+ inclusive workplace
Interviews / Opinions

Redefining diversity: Steps towards an LGBTQI+ inclusive workplace

Every June, our social media and the websites we visit become a little more colorful. Lots of companies change their logos to honor International Pride Month. And many of them take other initiatives, too, like sharing a motivational story or celebrating along with the LGBTQI+ community.

While these actions are a great way to show support, there’s always room for improvement. Companies can take additional steps throughout the year to foster a more inclusive and welcoming environment for their LGBTQI+ employees and customers.

The power of word of mouth

Changing a corporate logo to match the pride flag colors seems like a small move. But it can be a mighty one.

Truth be told, word of mouth is quite powerful nowadays. The internet has made sure of that. Thus, a company that is truly inclusive can contribute to promoting respect by changing its logo. This will definitely inspire people and mentally instill confidence in clients.

But that’s not enough on its own.

Companies that have done little to nothing to support the LGBTQI+ cause will face repercussions for changing their logo only in the name of profit. Members of the LGBTQI+ community usually keep a close eye on the activities of such companies and are aware of their true intentions, boycotting them eventually. Put differently, companies won’t be accused of pinkwashing if they change their logo as long as they’re making an honest effort to boost inclusion at work.

Luckily, there have been made steps toward building more LGBTQI+ inclusive workplaces—and people recognize their value.

Inclusive workplaces = Stronger workplaces

In the past, we needed to make the case for building inclusive workplaces. Now, we know it’s important to build them. And we’re looking for ways to do so.

Companies that want to be more inclusive should, first of all, re-think their recruitment strategies. Hiring employees of varied cultures, ethnicities, and, of course, sexual orientations. Variety in a workspace is key, not only to promote inclusion but to benefit from the potential this would bear. Different perspectives concerning markets and mentalities are of the utmost importance.

But it goes beyond who you bring to the company. How you treat them is also essential. And behaviors can be shaped through proper training.

Building LGBTQI+ inclusive workplaces that promote respect: The role of training | TalentLMS

The role of training

Training and, generally, education in any form is the key to an inclusive society. Unfortunately, such training in the mandatory educational years is lackluster. Thus, the responsibility falls upon the employer to properly train the personnel of a company. Having been denied the right to learn at a young age is one thing. Offering and grasping such an opportunity as a worker is an obligation and privilege we must all benefit from.

Having said this, basic training, which would need no more than an hour, is sufficient. A training seminar would set the basis for an LGBTQI+ inclusive workplace. Expanding upon said training will further benefit employees. Practicing “awkward” scenarios of misusing gender pronouns, restroom use, and being discrete with personal issues are all topics that can be practiced after initial training.

And then, employees can get access to useful resources anytime they want. For example, digital handbooks, that are environmentally friendly, can be easily emailed to all employees and foster respect in the workplace.

Although not training within itself, gatherings and celebrations can be highly educational and entertaining. These remind us all we are different but the same, instilling respect and understanding. Furthermore, taking part in Pride itself is probably the greatest of proclamations as this would publicly signify the company’s support in such a worthy and respectful cause.

From one-off events to continuous support

Support for the LGBTIQI+ community shouldn’t stop at one training session or one celebration. And it’s important to give a good example by being vocal about everything you’re doing to build an inclusive workplace.

Companies that are truly inclusive have, on rare occasions, been met with backlash for not supporting the community enough. A false misconception if all activities in favor of the community have not been promoted to the public eye. It’s an advisable practice to celebrate and promote inclusive events of all nature to keep citizens informed and inspired.

Another issue is when a single employee does not foster respect for the community or, in many cases, others in general. When their opinion becomes public, it can tarnish the reputation of the company, which is, in reality, inclusive. That’s why it’s important to thoroughly check the background of a potential colleague before hiring one.

Inclusion is not special treatment

Strides have been made in legislation and human rights to boost inclusion in society and at work. Positive discrimination is a side effect of all the angst the community has suffered. There is a misconception that LGBTQI+ individuals demand special attention. This is far from true.

There’s a fine line between being presented with respect and being publicly exposed as individuals who request special treatment. 

Yes, our voices and cause must and should be heard. However, positive discrimination has emerged and derails the message. Both the LGBTQI+ cause and its supporters are avidly supporting inclusion. When inclusion is deprived, and discrimination takes its place, it’s only logical to fight for one’s rights. Overzealous actions can contribute negatively to this. The solution is to have our voices heard with love, respect, and integrity.

Over time, (positive) discrimination will fade away as long as we are vigilant and support one another.

About the author:

Katherine Reilly
Author & Academic Lecturer, English Literature | LGBTQI+ Business Consultant | TEDx, Public and Motivational Speaker | she/her ⚧️

Katherine Reilly was born in Chicago, Illinois, and has a BA in English Language & Literature. She has authored a total of forty-three books for the ELT learning field and ICT learning. She has also offered her voice in recordings for the material’s relevant audio segments. In the role of Academic Teacher Trainer, Katherine delivers lectures to audiences of both graduates and experienced educators in domestic as well as international English language teaching conferences and universities. Her passion is inspiring critical thinking through active learning strategies and stimulating young learners’ potential in writing and speaking.

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