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How to Help LGBTIQ+ Employees Feel Comfortable at Work

Posted on Oct 21, 2021

In a country as diverse as Australia, it’s a given that our workplaces will reflect a large variety of human demographics. However, recent research has found that a majority of LGBTIQ+ employees still aren’t comfortable being open about their identity at work. 

The findings of the latest Indeed/YouGov survey into workplace diversity indicate that there is still work that organisations can do in this area to ensure their LGBTIQ+ employees have a strong sense of belonging. 

The report specified that six-in-ten (60%) LGBTIQ+ employees say they don’t feel they can be open at work. Given that so many in the LGBTIQ+ community aren’t being open about their identity in the workplace, it’s startling to find that 13% of respondents reported feeling they were not treated equally at work. While one-in-five LGBTIQ+ employees said they were not confident their workplace would take action in response to discrimination. 

Here are our tips for businesses who are committed to supporting diversity and inclusion for LGBTIQ+ people in the workplace.

1. Have a mission statement

It’s essential to clearly communicate your company values to your employees. It helps build a sense of belonging and inclusion but also gives you a chance to clearly indicate that your organisation will not tolerate discrimination.

2. Utilise development programs

Training and development programs are an important step in ensuring that LGBTIQ+ employees feel included and accepted in the workplace. They work by educating all staff about the challenges that those in the LGBTIQ+ can face and how to help them feel included and accepted at work. We are all guilty of unconscious bias, programs which help educate your employees to potential blind spots they have, are highly beneficial.

3. Take discrimination seriously

If you become aware of discrimination against one of your LGBTIQ+ employees, it’s important you take it seriously and take action. If employees cannot see any repercussions for discriminating against LGBTIQ+ people, then the perception will be that it’s acceptable in your workplace.

4. Offer support to LGBTQI+ employees

All staff benefit from training and development initiatives. However, the more a company can recognise and cater to the individual requirements of their employees, the better. Consider avenues such as mentoring for LGBTQI+ employees, though, be aware that one size doesn’t fit all and do all that you can to ensure you are adapting to the individual requirements of your employee.

5. Consider the inclusivity of your workplace

It’s one thing to talk the talk, but are you truly representing your company values in your actions? For example, you can ensure you are reflecting diversity with the people you include in company photographs. Additionally, you can encourage inclusivity in workplace conversations such as by not assuming sexual orientation or marital status. 

Australia has already come a long way in recognising the stigmas and challenges LGBTIQ+ people face. Nonetheless, progress still needs to be made to help LGBTIQ+ employees feel more comfortable at work. However, with more and more businesses committing to creating greater diversity and inclusivity in the workplace, more growth and equality can and will be achieved.