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Quick and Easy Ideas for LGBT Workplace Inclusion


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Evelina Silveira, President, Diversity at Work in London Inc.  Author, Diversity and Inclusion on a Budget:  How to have a more engaged and innovative workforce with little or no dollars.

Pride Month is coming up and now is the time to take a look at what your organization is doing to create workplace inclusion for lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgendered employees.  Even though I am a big supporter of LGBT inclusion in the workplace and in the community at large, sometimes I find myself stumped at what can we do in our organizations to advance the cause?  I figured that there were other people out there who likely feel how I do, but don’t know where to begin.  I did some research and I came up with a few ideas below that are really quite easy to do.  You don’t have to have a big budget, but you will see that these ideas will no doubt contribute to a more caring, engaged and productive workplace.

  • Don’t assume everyone is straight.
  • Remember to communicate a zero tolerance policy that inappropriate comments or jokes will not be allowed.
  • Keep in mind that LGBT employees often have children, spouses and partners. Show interest in their lives as well.
  • “Coming–out” is usually a risky thing to do in the workplace. When someone shares this with you, thank them for their trust in you and honour their need for privacy.
  • Convey verbally and in writing that professional development and promotional opportunities are solely based on merit.
  • When you are embarking on diversity and workplace inclusion training remember to include LGBT content.
  • Include any policies or benefits to LGBT employees on your website as you would for other groups. In the case of a global operation, it is important to let employees know how LGBT company practices and societal approaches abroad may be different if a transfer or travel is involved.
  • Don’t overlook LGBT causes when you are looking for outreach opportunities in your community. Considering the prevalence of bullying and higher levels of suicide among LGBT youth, these groups could use more resources.
  • Send out a Happy Pride Month message in your newsletter, intranet or other form of communication, just as you would with any other special month.
  • Ask employees if they have any ideas to improve LGBT inclusion in the workplace or marketing/customer service efforts to this population. These questions should be posed to your employees in general and not singling out LGBT in your organization.

 

If you would like more easy and low-cost ways to make your workplace more inclusive, consider purchasing our eBook, Diversity and Inclusion on a Budget  at http://www.yourdiversityatwork.com/ebook/ .

 

 

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Our Youth Today: Lessons about LGBT acceptance


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Evelina Silveira, President Diversity At Work

 P. is not your average 12 year old.  She has the depth and intellect of someone way past her years.  She’s kind of quirky, and never dull.  I have known P. for a good part of her childhood and have become somewhat of an important adult figure in her life.  I have heard about her struggles with self-mutilation, on-line forays into places she probably shouldn’t go and more.  Needless to say, I have grown to care about P. and she knows that she has a friend in me and can ask me for advice.

 P.’s friends at school became worried when she told them about cutting herself and wanting to kill herself.  Instead of dismissing it, they spoke to a teacher to get her some help.  She is doing much better, now.  Some of her classmates joke around with her because of how she dresses or the ways she acts, but it doesn’t seem to bother her too much.  She remains the individual that she is.

 A few months ago, P. shocked her classmates when she posted a message on Facebook declaring that she thought she was bisexual.  I panicked.  What would happen to her at school?  Was this really the best forum to do this in?  In some bizarre way it was.

 Although she did receive some hateful messages from strangers telling her that “she would rot in hell” and similar sentiments, they didn’t seem to bother her too much.  Her classmates really surprised us all.  A flurry of comments came in with messages like:  “love yourself”, “we still love you no matter what”,   “you’re still the same P. to me” and “be yourself”.  I have to say, I wouldn’t have expected this kind of acceptance from a group of 12 and 13 year olds!  In fact, it is rather contradictory to the negative messages we hear about teenagers lately who bully and harass their fellow students to the point of suicide.

 I share this story as a glimmer of hope.  The media can pick up on the most horrific stories of youth discrimination, harassment, bullying and sexual assault.   This story is not newsworthy for them but it is for me.  Teenagers are depicted in the media in the most negative ways.  As parents it is so easy for us to fear the worst,  that there is no hope for this group.  However, we must remember we rarely hear the stories like the one that I just told.

 There is hope for our youth. We can learn from these young students about acceptance and supporting one another.  With their help and others like them, maybe we can finally put an end to all of the needless suicides – the loss of precious young LGBT lives around the world.

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