In 2018, the Human Rights Campaign proclaimed that nearly 50 percent of LGBTQ workers live in closets at their place of employment. The report revealed that these workers were asked to wear more masculine or feminine attire or tell offensive jokes about others being gay or lesbian. They are afraid to come out because they don’t think they will be supported, they will face discrimination, which will ruin relationships with their coworkers.
Such fears lead to feelings of depression, exhaustion, or an inability to concentrate on work. While there is legislation to protect LGBTQ employees, employers can form a more inclusive workplace through recruitment and leadership.
The State of LGBTQ Inclusion in the Recruitment Process
Despite remarkable progress in the fight for LGBTQ rights in the public sphere, there is still a long way to go. And it is evident by many LGBTQ people who do not feel comfortable at work. According to Human Rights Campaign research, 46% of LGBTQ workers are laid off at work, and the main reasons why workers don’t feel comfortable being out at work include:
- Likely to be stereotyped (38%)
- Likely to make people uncomfortable (36%)
- Likely to lose connection or ties with coworkers (31%)
- Afraid that people will think they are attracted to them because they are LGBTQ (27%)
The research also found that 1 in 10 LGBTQ workers quit because the environment was not accepting LGBTQ people.
How to Make Your Workplace LGBTQ Friendly
1. Support Parental Leave
Men also deserve to bond with their new babies. So make sure everyone has the right to an excellent parental leave policy, not just women. Not only does it support men in gay couples who have children, but it creates an equal society for all families.
Companies must not only allow LGBTQ employees but must also be actively looking to recruit workers from diverse backgrounds. Employers should keep a note that most people spend most of their waking hours at work. Therefore, their work environment should be safe, healthy, and humane.
2. Improve Screening
An employer’s onboarding process will also reveal whether they are genuinely inclusive of the LGBTQ community. For example, applications and other recruitment paperwork should allow gender choices beyond “male” and “female” to include “other” and perhaps “non-binary.”
When conducting a background check, it is essential to collect as much information as possible to verify that the screening report is accurate. If the candidate has made the transition, it is necessary to obtain all identifying information to get a comprehensive report. The candidate should also be able to indicate how they currently identify and which pronouns they prefer.
3. Change your Hiring Strategies
If you have LGBTQ-friendly policies in place, you have now set a baseline for welcoming LGBTQ employees. But what if your recruiting practices are preventing people from joining in the first place?
Even if you’re not actively discriminated against, you may be delivering the wrong message in your job ads or being the victim of an unconscious bias in the hiring process.
So pay attention to the wording of your ads and make sure they convey the right message. Also, clearly state your commitment to equality and diversity, and talk about other company values or LGBTQ-friendly benefits that demonstrate that commitment.
For example, reach beyond your general demographic by partnering with LGBTQ employee networks and organizations in your area. Increase attendance at LGBTQ recruitment events. Try posting your job ads on job boards that strongly focus on the LGBTQ community, such as Pink Jobs or Transgender Job Bank.
Then ensure that the interview and selection process is transparent and fair, with no room for bias.
4. Listen and Take Action When LGBTQ Employees Speak Out
If your queer employees feel like they cannot talk about the problems they face — or that no one in a position of power is listening to them and taking action to make them feel safe, heard, and valued — you’ll fail to establish a diverse workforce. So take the responsibility of listening carefully to what your employees are saying. Listen without dismissing their experiences or perspectives just because you don’t have the same ones. And then take action for it.
5. Address the Interview
The LinkedIn report showed that 83% of survey respondents felt that a negative interview experience could change their views about a job or company they once appreciated. So what can we do to combat this and ensure that this first point of contact is friendly, welcoming, and inclusive?
First, see who is conducting the interview. Not everyone is a naturally born interviewer, and without adequate training, this can inadvertently put some individuals off. Good collaboration and communication between you, your HR staff, and the hiring staff will help resolve these issues.
Invest in interviewer’s training by giving your employees the tools, skills, and confidence to evaluate and analyze talent in a friendly, welcoming, and safe manner. With that said, making sure all members of staff have a firm grasp on your company’s diversity and inclusion mission is especially important as LinkedIn reports that 43% of diversity recruiters fail due to interview bias.
6. Donate to LGBTQ-Related Groups and Charities
Your company can also show its support for the LGBTQ community by donating to LGBTQ-related charities and groups. In addition, participating in community events that support the community (i.e., participation in a local gay pride parade) will also do the work.
It might be challenging for recruiters to remain unbiased in all possible ways as their life experiences are different from LGBTQ people. One of the promising strategies that companies can adopt to deal with it is to have LGBTQ people in their recruitment staff so that their hiring could be more welcoming, safe, and unbiased.
Also, companies must not seek to tokenize LGBTQ employees for optics. Hiring must be based on attitude and incompetency as it leads to the healthy growth of an organization.