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Creating an Inclusive SMB Culture that Supports Your LGBTQ+ Employees

June 1, 2022

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It’s officially Pride Month, a time when we can come together to celebrate the contributions and progress of the LGBTQ+ community.

But even as we display our rainbow-themed brand logos and release Pride Month social media posts, we all still have a long way to go so that people in the LGBTQ+ community feel like they have equal rights and security in the workplace.

According to Gallup, 7.1% of U.S. adults identify as LGBTQ+ — however, 46% are still closeted at work.

In 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court made it clear that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 also prohibited discrimination against employees on the basis of sexual orientation and/or transgender status. But even still, almost 10% of LGBTQ+ workers experienced workplace discrimination in 2021.

But there are steps we can take to ensure that our workplaces are inclusive and open to our LGBTQ+ employees. Every year, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation updates their Corporate Equity Index, which rates how workplaces are adopting equitable policies and practices that support their LGBTQ+ employees. Here’s what your SMB needs:

A clear and transparent nondiscrimination policy.

You probably already have a nondiscrimination or zero-tolerance policy in place at your business. However, it’s best to be as specific with your language as possible so your current and future LGBTQ+ employees feel secure and directly covered by the policy.

“The first and most important step is ensuring your culture is inclusive,” said Sasha Robinson, head of people ops at Trainual. “Meaning every person, regardless of who they are, where they are from, who they love, or how they identify, feels like they can bring their full, authentic self to work.”

So when you’re writing that nondiscrimination policy, be sure to include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” on the list of protected statuses. (And if you need some help writing your policy, check out this Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Policy template.)

Equitable benefits for LGBTQ+ employees and their families.

As a small business owner, you know that your benefits package is one of your biggest tools for recruiting and retaining employees. And one of the most important benefits you can offer is health insurance.

When it comes to your LGBTQ+ employees, you want to ensure that the health insurance plans you offer are equal and equitable to all. For example, your health insurance plans should have inclusive benefits for both same-sex and different-sex spouses and domestic partners.

Also, make sure you offer at least one transgender-inclusive plan in your benefits package. Companies who have done so typically do not experience significant premium increases, and having the option shows current and potential employees that you’re serious about providing inclusive benefits.

An inclusive culture where employees can be themselves.

To avoid harassment and discrimination in the workplace, some employees resort to “covering” to hide their LGBTQ+ identity (AKA changing the way they dress and avoiding conversation about their personal lives) and report feeling exhausted from having to hide their sexual orientation or gender identity. Others stated they felt unhappy or depressed at work.

Some could argue that you should be “professional” at work and “be yourself” at home. But it’s important to note that employees’ psychological safety (AKA, the ability to be their authentic selves without fear of negative repercussion) in the workplace affects company turnover and productivity.

A safe environment allows employees to build trust with their coworkers and management. It gives them the space to get creative with their work, pushing boundaries for faster innovation and growth. Plus, setting a space of inclusivity in your business produces happier and healthier employees.

To support employees, it’s important that companies not only talk the talk, but also walk the walk. And that means promoting an inclusive workplace culture where LGBTQ+ can be their most authentic selves without fear of discrimination or bias.

“Many members of the LGBTQ+ community have experienced discrimination or harassment in previous roles,” shared Sasha. “Providing subtle signals of belonging in the recruitment and onboarding process can signal to future teammates that it's physically and mentally safe to be themselves.”

Here are a few small ways you can show employees your support:

  • Provide a place for your employees to display their pronouns, like in your internal communication tool.
  • Call attention to your company values around D&I on your website and in your interview process.
  • Create affinity or employee resource groups (ERGs) to build community and provide safe spaces for your employees.

At the end of the day, you want all of your employees to be their happiest and most honest selves at your business. And providing a place for them to be open and free from fear of harassment is a small step to take.

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Article

Creating an Inclusive SMB Culture that Supports Your LGBTQ+ Employees

June 1, 2022

Jump to a section
Share it!
Sign up for our newsletter
You're all signed up! Look out for the next edition of The Manual Weekly coming Wednesday am!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

It’s officially Pride Month, a time when we can come together to celebrate the contributions and progress of the LGBTQ+ community.

But even as we display our rainbow-themed brand logos and release Pride Month social media posts, we all still have a long way to go so that people in the LGBTQ+ community feel like they have equal rights and security in the workplace.

According to Gallup, 7.1% of U.S. adults identify as LGBTQ+ — however, 46% are still closeted at work.

In 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court made it clear that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 also prohibited discrimination against employees on the basis of sexual orientation and/or transgender status. But even still, almost 10% of LGBTQ+ workers experienced workplace discrimination in 2021.

But there are steps we can take to ensure that our workplaces are inclusive and open to our LGBTQ+ employees. Every year, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation updates their Corporate Equity Index, which rates how workplaces are adopting equitable policies and practices that support their LGBTQ+ employees. Here’s what your SMB needs:

A clear and transparent nondiscrimination policy.

You probably already have a nondiscrimination or zero-tolerance policy in place at your business. However, it’s best to be as specific with your language as possible so your current and future LGBTQ+ employees feel secure and directly covered by the policy.

“The first and most important step is ensuring your culture is inclusive,” said Sasha Robinson, head of people ops at Trainual. “Meaning every person, regardless of who they are, where they are from, who they love, or how they identify, feels like they can bring their full, authentic self to work.”

So when you’re writing that nondiscrimination policy, be sure to include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” on the list of protected statuses. (And if you need some help writing your policy, check out this Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Policy template.)

Equitable benefits for LGBTQ+ employees and their families.

As a small business owner, you know that your benefits package is one of your biggest tools for recruiting and retaining employees. And one of the most important benefits you can offer is health insurance.

When it comes to your LGBTQ+ employees, you want to ensure that the health insurance plans you offer are equal and equitable to all. For example, your health insurance plans should have inclusive benefits for both same-sex and different-sex spouses and domestic partners.

Also, make sure you offer at least one transgender-inclusive plan in your benefits package. Companies who have done so typically do not experience significant premium increases, and having the option shows current and potential employees that you’re serious about providing inclusive benefits.

An inclusive culture where employees can be themselves.

To avoid harassment and discrimination in the workplace, some employees resort to “covering” to hide their LGBTQ+ identity (AKA changing the way they dress and avoiding conversation about their personal lives) and report feeling exhausted from having to hide their sexual orientation or gender identity. Others stated they felt unhappy or depressed at work.

Some could argue that you should be “professional” at work and “be yourself” at home. But it’s important to note that employees’ psychological safety (AKA, the ability to be their authentic selves without fear of negative repercussion) in the workplace affects company turnover and productivity.

A safe environment allows employees to build trust with their coworkers and management. It gives them the space to get creative with their work, pushing boundaries for faster innovation and growth. Plus, setting a space of inclusivity in your business produces happier and healthier employees.

To support employees, it’s important that companies not only talk the talk, but also walk the walk. And that means promoting an inclusive workplace culture where LGBTQ+ can be their most authentic selves without fear of discrimination or bias.

“Many members of the LGBTQ+ community have experienced discrimination or harassment in previous roles,” shared Sasha. “Providing subtle signals of belonging in the recruitment and onboarding process can signal to future teammates that it's physically and mentally safe to be themselves.”

Here are a few small ways you can show employees your support:

  • Provide a place for your employees to display their pronouns, like in your internal communication tool.
  • Call attention to your company values around D&I on your website and in your interview process.
  • Create affinity or employee resource groups (ERGs) to build community and provide safe spaces for your employees.

At the end of the day, you want all of your employees to be their happiest and most honest selves at your business. And providing a place for them to be open and free from fear of harassment is a small step to take.

Article

Creating an Inclusive SMB Culture that Supports Your LGBTQ+ Employees

June 1, 2022

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