Q. How can my business encourage LGBT inclusion?
A. Creating an inclusive and positive working culture will be key to retaining top talent and keeping staff satisfaction levels high. With this in mind, there are a host of business-friendly practices you can implement to better encourage LGBT inclusion in your organisation.
The most common first step would be to implement a workplace policy that provides you with the framework required to support LGBT staff.
Creating an equal opportunities statement will outline your commitment to cultivating an environment in which individual differences and the contributions of staff are recognised and valued equally.
Not only will this be well received by LGBT employees, but it will also provide a mantra that all staff can be expected to abide by.
To truly encourage inclusivity, it is important that the messages laid down in any workplace policies are effectively communicated.
You should therefore warn your employees that harassment will not be accepted in any form, paying particular attention to the dangers of workplace banter whilst also providing examples of discriminatory behaviour in line with the Equality Act 2010.
Most employers choose to do this as part of the standard induction process for new starters, which should help ensure your workplace remains an inclusive environment for LGBT staff and protect you from potential discrimination claims.
Recruitment processes should also be carried out in a fair manner and you should refrain from asking candidates questions about their sexual orientation, or their attitudes towards the LGBT community, as this could give individuals the impression that you are using their responses against them.
It is important that job offers are made based on experience and suitability to the role, rather than an individual’s sexuality, therefore it is advisable to use multiple interviewers wherever possible to prevent the existence of bias.
The same approach should also be applied when deciding on promotion opportunities and these decisions should be made based on merit.
It is vital that LGBT employees feel safe and protected at work, therefore having a clear grievance reporting method will play a key role in encouraging inclusion.
Having a transparent and reliable process for reporting grievances will make staff more inclined to report any instances of bullying or harassment.
This will give you an opportunity to deal with any issues which arise, including third-party harassment, and you should take appropriate disciplinary action against any employee who is found guilty of discriminatory behaviour.
Encouraging LGBT inclusion will ultimately require you to take a common sense approach to many existing business practices, tailoring these where necessary to create a fair and welcoming working environment.