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LGBTQ+ Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

By Kimberly Kafafian


I read a quote from Rainbow Railroad that I want to share with you: “All humans are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” With it being Pride Month, we want to shine a spotlight on LGBTQ+ diversity and inclusion. What is your company doing to make sure your LGBTQ+ employees feel safe and comfortable? Do you have diversity initiatives in place? Are you actively taking steps to build a culture of belonging? I’m hoping this article will help guide employers on the path to creating welcoming and supportive workplaces for the LGBTQ+ community during the month of June and every day of the year.

What Does LGBTQ+ Mean?

LGBTQ+ is an inclusive acronym that represents a diverse range of sexualities and gender-identities. The LGBTQ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning people. The plus sign represents other gender and sexual identities, such as nonbinary, pansexual, asexual and intersex. 

The Benefits of a Diverse Workforce Are Proven

Diversity is, of course, crucial for social justice. But it also makes sense from a purely business standpoint. A McKinsey study found that diversity can positively impact a company’s bottom line. How? By:

  • Boosting creativity and innovation. Diverse thinking leads to more creative results. When you bring together multiple perspectives, you foster new ways of thinking, which drives innovation.
  • Creating a more inclusive culture. When you have a company culture that authentically encourages diversity across the enterprise you are creating an environment where people feel accepted and valued. This in turn enhances employee engagement, which boosts productivity. Plus an inclusive culture improves a company’s reputation and brand, helping to retain and attract talent.
  • Making better decisions. Research by Cloverpop shows that diverse teams are better at making decisions – 87% of the time! As Laura Sherbin, CFO and Director of Research at the Center for Talent Innovation notes, “Diversity and inclusion must go hand-in-hand to drive results. Cloverpop’s research bolsters the case that employers who build diverse and inclusive teams see the best outcomes.”

Tips for Enhancing Diversity and Inclusion at Your Organization

Now that you know that diversity and inclusion makes sense from a bottom line standpoint in addition to being the ethical thing to do, let’s explore some strategies for building a more LGBTQ+ friendly workplace.

  • Establish Formal LGBTQ+ policies. Whether it’s making sure that LGBTQ+ inclusion is part of your overall diversity policy or creating a separate policy around it, your formal policies need to demonstrate your commitment in this area. Be sure to address topics like parental leave, adoption, dress code expectations, and restroom use. 


  • Provide comprehensive LGBTQ+ training. This applies to both new hire onboarding and ongoing training sessions. It is a powerful way to educate your entire workforce about LGBTQ+ issues as well as your policies, expectations, and repercussions for violations.


  • Set employee expectations. While you cannot force employees to condone or agree with each other’s lifestyle, you can require your workforce to treat each other with respect. Define behaviors that help foster inclusion, such as using preferred names and pronouns. 


  • Use personal pronouns. In an inclusive workplace, it’s important not to assume anyone’s gender. Encouraging the use of pronouns you identify with in email signatures, social media and other written forms of communication can help trans and nonbinary people feel more comfortable around their peers. 


  • Adopt gender neutral language. Transition language in company documentation from he/she to they for more inclusive communications.


  • Create an LGBTQ+ network. A great way to show your support is to create an LGBTQ+ network in your organization. Creating such a group also provides opportunities to identify ways to improve your inclusive initiatives. In addition to this group, you can also seek out inclusion allies who can also offer support. 


  • Recruit purposefully. Start promoting a welcoming workplace from the start during the recruitment process. Include stories of diversity and inclusion on your website. Make sure your job postings use gender neutral language. Include references to same-sex partner benefits. Post on LGBTQ+-friendly job sites. 

With it being Pride Month, now is the time to take action and review and reassess your LGBTQ+ policies and initiatives. 


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