LGBTQ in the Workplace
On June 15, 2020, the Supreme Court ruled in a decisive 6 to 3 vote that the employment protections afforded to U.S. citizens under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 must also extend to gay and transgender people.
This is a monumental step forward in the gay rights movement will positively impact the lives of millions in the LGBTQ community and their families. This decision is especially important to those who reside in one of the 30 states that do not already provide basic civil rights protections to members of the LGBTQ community.
Of course, the Supreme Court ruling is important, but forward-thinking employers are not just following the letter of the law. For years before this decision was made, more and more employers have been offering policies and benefits that are inclusive of those in the LGBTQ community. These benefits and policies might include: trans-gender inclusive health coverage, equivalent benefits for same sex couples, and active recognition and celebration of Pride month.
The Benefits of an LGBTQ-Friendly Workplace
First of all, creating a diverse workplace that is friendly and welcoming to members of the LGBTQ community benefits employees. Since there’s no need for LGBTQ employees to worry about hiding who they are, they tend to experience less stress and less stress-related illnesses overall.
They also miss fewer days of work due to illness. Furthermore, “out” employees have better relationships with managers and co-workers. They also feel more confident in who they are and are more willing to share ideas and present solutions.
LGBTQ-supportive policies benefit the company as well. For example, LGBTQ-friendly firms tend to experience decreased legal costs due to lower incidence of discrimination lawsuits. Age discrimination has become more widespread in the IT fields and many lawsuits have occurred as a result.
And it’s only logical that LGBTQ employees are more focused on their jobs and more committed to the company when their employers support them. This translates into a more dedicated workforce and lower turnover. A more diverse and open workplace is more conducive to coming up with creative solutions to business challenges.
Finally, it’s important to consider that many consumers are eager to do business with socially-responsible companies. So being openly welcoming to the LGBTQ community may bring more customers from that community and more customers overall on board.
How to Advocate for an LGBTQ-Friendly Workplace
Even if you don’t feel outright discrimination at your workplace as a member of the LGBTQ community, you still may feel that your company can do more to promote lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer support or awareness. So, how do you, as an individual employee advocate for more LGBTQ-friendly policies? Here are a few tips to get started.
- Identify your allies: Which of your co-workers do you think will support you in your cause? More importantly, who in management will be supportive of your ideas? Is there anyone that you know who is interested in diversifying recruitment efforts or marketing strategy? These individuals are all potential allies in your quest for a more open workplace.
- Understand challenges: What problems or challenges could impede your success? Is your company in the midst of leadership change, structural change, or some other type of upheaval? Are there layoffs on the horizon? This information may prove to be useful in how you time your proposal and making sure that you are directing your arguments to the people who can truly make a difference (and who aren’t on their way out the door).
- Connect with HR: Start a dialogue with a representative from your human resources department about what you are trying to accomplish and why it is so important to you. It’s critical to get support from HR as they will be heavily involved in helping to implement, provide training on, and enforce any new policies. They may also have ideas on how to best present your ideas to upper management.
- Create your proposal: Once you know what you want to accomplish and the steps it will take to be successful, draft a formal proposal for decision makers. It should clearly state what you want to accomplish and how it will benefit the company. Include an anticipated budget (if any) and the amount of work hours that may have to be invested to make the policy a reality (e.g., training existing employees).
- Deliver the proposal: Establish a time with decision makers to deliver your proposal. You may want to ask your HR representative, manager, and/or co-worker allies to join you in the meeting for support. Make sure to leave behind a summary of your proposal with each of the decision makers.
- Follow up: If you don’t receive an answer in a timely fashion, or your idea is outright rejected, request a follow up meeting to ask why. You deserve an answer and an opportunity to respond.
- Stay the course: Remember, change takes time. Although the most recent newcomers of Generation Z entering the workforce are far more open to diversity and gender neutrality, don’t get discouraged if there is initial push-back or lack of concern for LGBTQ inclusion in your workplace. Respectfully tell management that you would like to continue the dialogue later. In the meantime, continue to identify new allies and keep an eye out for articles that give persuasive arguments for making the workplace more LGBTQ friendly.
Seizing the Moment and Looking Ahead
The landmark ruling from the Supreme Court sends a loud-and-clear message across the nation: LGBTQ people unequivocally deserve to be included in our nation’s employment nondiscrimination policies.
Now, it’s up to each of us to do what we can to ensure that our co-workers, employees, and family members can enjoy this moment and make our workplaces as open and welcome as possible for the LGBTQ community.
Maria Gold is a Content Manager/Writer for Empire Resume. She is dedicated to helping educate and motivate people with the latest career articles and job search advice. Her interests range from writing to programming and design. She is also passionate about innovation, entrepreneurship, and technology.