Lead With Inclusion

Is your workplace LGBTQ+ friendly? How would you know?

May 15, 2024

This Friday is the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia. Next week on May 22nd Harvey Milk Day is observed, dedicated to celebrating and educating others about the extraordinary leader who fought discrimination and paved the way for many of the civil rights we have today.

And with Pride Month around the corner in June, it’s a good time to ask ourselves:

“How can I be a better ally and leader for my LGBTQ+ colleagues?”

Lead with Inclusion:

“The most important piece for me is safety.”

That was the answer my friend shared with me when I asked him what’s “top of mind” for supporting LGBTQ+ employees, and it really stuck with me. He went on to say, “I have a sense of anxiety about whether I’ll be safe in a job.”

It’s a shared sentiment that intensified for many in 2023, when the Human Rights Campaign issued its first ever state of emergencyfor the LGBTQ+ community after over 75 anti-LGBTQ+ bills were signed into law.

Our LGBTQ+ colleagues need support from leaders and allies. But how?

A common challenge leaders face in the workplace is not knowing the answer to that question…

…because they haven’t asked their employees.

I’ve opened the door to this conversation by sharing my friend’s recommendations for creating a workplace that supports LGBTQ+ individuals below. It’s important to note that one person’s perspective isn’t a substitute for asking your employees directly what they need.

It’s simple and meaningful to ask (and as an added layer of commitment to asking these questions, join our 100K Conversations Campaign). If you haven’t yet, or you’re looking for concrete suggestions in the meantime, consider these:

Be an Inclusive Leader:

Here are ways to be an inclusive leader, as shared by my friend (a Black, gay, cisgender man who uses he/him pronouns):

Pronoun Inclusion

Policies

  • What policies exist to ensure LGBTQ+ safety, community, and representation?
  • Is there an ERG for queer employees?
  • How is queer inclusion woven into recruiting and hiring?
  • How is queer safety maintained when some religious beliefs may conflict with LGBTQ+ acceptance?
  • Has leadership invested in third-party audits to ensure an inclusive and safe environment, especially for trans employees?

Fiscal Responsibility

I understand these suggestions may involve some perceived heavy lifting, especially if they’re new to your leadership or teams. But isn’t that price worth paying to ensure the safety, creativity, wellness, and loyalty of your employees?

My invitation to you is to share in the comments ONE thing you’ll do before June (LGBTQ Pride Month) to make your workplace safer and more inclusive for your LGBTQ+ colleagues.

Maybe it’s adding pronouns to your email signature, asking HR how recruiting ensures inclusivity, or suggesting a local queer rights organization for a company donation.

Unconscious Inclusion” has additional resources and accountability, and it’s suitable for individuals and teams. You’ll learn how diversity makes your workplace stronger, get guidance for having uncomfortable conversations, and discover why psychologically safe teams are the best teams.

Inclusion takes action. While your action before June might feel like a tiny drop, enough tiny drops become an ocean.

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