June is Pride month, and many organisations celebrate pride at work by showing support and allyship to the LGBTQ+ community. The celebrations during Pride month are one thing, but are these organisations also working inclusively for the rest of the year? The switch from June to July often speaks for itself, as those who rainbow-fied their logos swiftly change it back until the next year (prompting a discourse about rainbow-washing).
46% of LGBTQ+ employees have encountered discrimination within the workplace and a further 10% have left roles due to a lack of inclusive work culture. It’s clear there’s still work to do in order to build an inclusive work culture that works for everyone, all year round.
In this blog, we will take you through:
- How organisations can challenge people who are not working inclusively.
- Behaviours that support equality, diversity and inclusion in a hybrid workplace.
- The characteristics of a LGBTQ+ inclusive work environment
- How do you know if you have an inclusive work culture?
- How to measure inclusivity and build on what you already have.
How to challenge people not working inclusively
A big part of building an inclusive culture is having an environment where everyone feels psychologically safe. This means that colleagues, at any level, can speak openly about their passions or challenge one another’s behaviours without facing judgement, discrimination or punishment.
Building a psychologically safe working environment requires effort and time from all members of the business, not just the HR department. Here’s how everyone can get involved:
Show your human side
Active listening is key; be understanding and engaged when a colleague is speaking. By doing this, you’re creating an open environment where everyone feels heard and are comfortable to speak up. Encourage managers to role-model this behaviour and hold their teams accountable.
Everyone leads by example
According to Catalyst, 67.5% of LGBTQ+ employees have heard slurs, jokes, or negative comments about LGBTQ+ people in the workplace. Working inclusively means going beyond talking about inclusion to actively holding others accountable for their language and behaviour. And being held accountable in return. So, whether you’re the CEO, a senior manager, or an apprentice, you must be open to being challenged by others, to apologise for mistakes, and to do better.
Be open to feedback
Asking for employee feedback about inclusion at work isn’t a box ticking exercise. Instead, your organisation needs to demonstrate that you take this feedback seriously by taking action. If you’re not taking the steps to implement what employees are telling you, they may not be as willing to share the next time.
If you’re just starting to ask for feedback about equality, diversity and inclusion, remember to let employees know that their responses will be anonymous. This will help build an environment where employees feel safe to be open and honest, which results in more effective feedback. Working with an external partner like People Insight helps reassure employees that confidentiality is being taken seriously.
What does working inclusively look like?
There are plenty of changes you can make to build an inclusive workplace culture for everyone, whether office-based, remote or hybrid:
Characteristics of a LGBTQ+ inclusive work environment
- Research shows that 93% of top Fortune 500 companies already include sexual orientation in their non-discrimination policies. Review your own policies to check if they are inclusive-first. For example, are your policies surrounding maternity/paternity packages also inclusive of adoptive parents? Aviva champions their equal parental leave policies which grow in popularity year on year.
- Provide training sessions or assign time for employees to complete online courses to improve their understanding of what it means to be inclusive and confront unconscious biases. There are loads of free courses online that cover a wide range of topics, such as “LGBTQ+ inclusion within remote workforces”, “Understanding your trans workers”, and “LGBTQ+ inclusive policies and procedures”.
- Host/attend events that are inclusive of the LGBTQ+ community and allow attendees to network and grow their professional community. You could also host fundraising activities that support LGBTQ+ focused charities, or attend events as a team outside of work, for example, the IKEA team attend Pride every year.
- Appoint diversity champions / allies to speak on behalf of team. This provides an anonymity and a safe space for those who aren’t comfortable to openly speak out yet. For example, engineering company Leidos has 9 Employee Resource Groups with over 3,000 members which host allyship activities and networking events.
- Encourage employees to list their pronouns in email signatures or on work related social media, such as LinkedIn. Why not also incorporate gender neutral language within the business by adding this to the company’s brand guidelines and policies. Halifax announced recently that branch staff would be including pronouns on their name-badges.
- Create safe spaces in the office environment, such as gender-neutral toilets and locker rooms (Google led the way with this in 2018.) Also, review any dress-code policies you may have to ensure these too are gender neutral.
Behaviours that support equality, diversity and inclusion in a hybrid workplace
- Adjust inclusive policies to include remote working as well as behaviours demonstrated in the workplace. Tech companies are leading the way, with Zoom changing their company policies to focus on flexibility, leaving it up to individuals to work how they feel most comfortable.
- Consider how to extend inclusivity to your remote or hybrid colleagues too. Ensure that they have equal access to equipment, resources and company updates and that meetings are hosted both in person and online. Also encourage teams to chat to each other about non-related work topics, to replicate ‘water cooler’ moments throughout their day. This will help to build, strengthen and create a greater sense of community between colleagues.
- Celebrate and share success stories online, not just work related but also personal achievements too. Uber does this by putting together an annual blog celebrating members of their LGBTQ+ community. This creates an environment where all employees feel able to bring their full self to work, which in turn boosts employee engagement.
- Create a safe place for non-work-related chat using software such as Teams, Slack or Workplace. Setting up specific chat groups creates safe spaces for these communities to connect. These groups could include LGBTQ+, working parents and women in leadership. Microsoft finds ways of supporting their team no matter where they are in the world, especially in countries where LGBTQ+ activity is prohibited, with their online chat network.
How do you know if you have an inclusive work culture?
An employee survey is the best way to measure whether you have an inclusive work culture. A Diversity and Inclusion survey is an anonymous survey that measures how fair and inclusive your organisation is. Your survey results also highlight areas where people feel you are not working inclusively, to focus your efforts for change.
Asking survey questions about inclusion is important because while your organisation may have a diverse demographic, this does not necessarily mean you have an inclusive culture. A survey measures how inclusive your culture is by asking questions like:
- [My company] ensures all people are treated fairly and equally
- Senior leaders clearly articulate why inclusion is important
- I feel able to challenge the inappropriate behaviour of others in the workplace
You can also include open-text questions which give colleagues a chance to elaborate on their experiences. For example:
“Are there any experiences that make you feel like you are not included at [my company]? Please explain the impact this has on you personally and / or your work.”
Diversity and Inclusion is a sensitive topic and exploring the results of your D&I survey can prompt leaders and managers to feel vulnerable. An expert partner like People Insight can help interpret your D&I survey results and identify the key areas to focus on to create a more inclusive workplace.