5 Ways to be More Inclusive of the LGBTQ+ Community in Your Workplace

The first Pride march, known as Gay Liberation Day March, was held in New York City on June 28, 1970 to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall uprising. With credit to Marsha P. Johnson and Brenda Howard, today Pride parades across the world celebrate the LGBTQ+ community and bring together millions of people. You can read first hand accounts from Pride marchers around the world and throughout the years in this 2020 article from the New York Times.

The popularity of the Pride movement has led to some (particularly large corporations) selectively celebrating the LGBTQ+ community during the month of June and then quietly excluding them throughout the year. This has not gone unnoticed and has caused resentment towards many big brands that are being seen as performative and tokenizing the Pride movement for profit. This is usually attributed to those companies that are, we’ll say “seasonally inclusive.”

In this article we’ll highlight a couple of ways your workplace can be truly inclusive and celebrate your LGBTQ+ colleagues in large and small ways everyday.


1 Recruiting & Hiring

In 2021, LGBTQ+ employees made up 5.9% of the U.S. workforce (Investopedia.) Diversity of sexual and gender identities drives innovation and shows actionable inclusivity. Look around at your team and think about the makeup of LGBTQ+ team members. If you do not have a sense of this, consider why that might be the case.   


  • How diverse is your workforce? 
  • Are folks represented from a variety of identities?


2 Policies & Parental Leave

There are some policies, particularly those related to parental leave that can be inherently exclusionary. In a study conducted by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles it was found that gay male couples received the same number of weeks off as different-sex couples in just 12% of cases reviewed (Reuters.) It’s worth taking a look at the wording and benefits in your policies and reconsidering what is and is not included in these packages. 


  • Is parental leave granted for adoptive parents? 
  • Are equal rights given to all parents in the family?


3 Developing an Inclusive Environment & Culture

“1 in 5 LGBTQ+ workers have been told or had coworkers imply that they need to dress more feminine or macsuline,” compared to 1 in 24 non-LGBTQ+ workers (Human Rights Campaign.) Look at all aspects of your environment – both tangible and intangible. Determine in how many ways your workforce is segmented by gender. 


  • Does your workplace have different dress requirements based on gender expression?
  • Are restrooms divided?
  • Are there “guys nights” or “ladies luncheons”? 


People who are transgender may feel excluded or unsafe when forced to identify with one of two proposed identities. Implementing flexible attire policies and providing accessible, gender-neutral restrooms and including everyone in networking opportunities will help folks feel more included. Keep this in mind for company events and outings as well.


  • Will the venue be a safe place for all your employees? 
  • Is the event inclusive to all family compositions?


4  Microaggressions & Workplace Safety

45% of LGBTQ+ workers agree that the enforcement of non-descrimination policy is dependent on their supervisor’s own feelings towards the LGBTQ+ community (Human Rights Campaign.) Harassment can present itself in many ways and can be hidden behind personal biases. Provide anonymous ways for team members to make complaints. Individuals are less likely to come forward if they feel unsafe or fear retaliation. Feeling safe in the workplace is critical to inclusivity and employee retention.


  • Is there a way for individuals to anonymously report harassment?
  • Are your safety and harassment policies equally enforced for all employees?


5 Be An Ally

53% of LGBTQ+ workers report hearing jokes about lesbian or gay people, while only 37% of their non-LGBTQ+ counterparts report hearing the same jokes (Human Rights Campaign.) Being a strong ally every day, in the workplace and at home, shows solidarity with your LGBTQ+ colleagues. Respect their privacy, names, and pronouns and don’t make assumptions based on a person’s appearance. If you see someone being mistreated, say something. Aside from being the right thing to do, respecting, supporting, and standing up for someone builds trust and respect. If colleagues know they can depend on one another they are likely to work better together as well. In the workplace, teams can provide allyship training throughout the year (not just once a year) to reinforce these principals.


  • Is there a sense of community and camaraderie that is inclusive of your LGBTQ+ employees? 
  • Do team members respect one another and report incidents of harassment?


These are just a few actionable examples of how you can make your workplace more inclusive.

Looking for company training or custom recommendations? Contact us to speak with a DEI expert.

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