As Pride month continues throughout June, it’s important for employers to think broadly about the LGBTQ+ community and how best to promote acceptance of all identities with workplace policies that meet employees where they are. This is especially timely given the current backlash against corporate support of LGBTQ+ and Pride-related initiatives in some states as well as the Human Rights Council’s designation of the first-ever state of emergency for LGBTQ+ communities in the U.S.
There’s also no one-stop shop for inclusion: policies that serve one community or identity group may not apply to others. That said, showing a commitment to listening and crafting new policies when appropriate goes a long way with employees – a study by GLAAD and the Edelman Trust Institute shows U.S. employees are 4.5x more likely to work for a company that publicly demonstrates a commitment to expanding and protecting LGBTQ+ rights.
There is a myriad of ways for employers to show their commitment to gender acceptance. Some examples include:
–Broaden language: Using gender-inclusive and non-gendered language in workplace policies is a key step in promoting a safer, more accepting workplace. For instance, using “lactation” instead of “breastfeeding” encompasses a broader group of people, as not all lactating people identify as women or within the gender binary. The National Institutes of Health provides an overview of terms devoid of gendered language, which are worth reflecting in workplace policies and official language.
-Practice what you preach: It’s important for employers to put their money where their mouth is when it comes to issues of inclusion. Ensuring existing benefits and policies support the rhetoric your organization is putting forward is essential. The Human Rights Campaign Foundation provides helpful tips for determining whether your health plan is transgender-inclusive, including specific questions to ask of insurance representatives in the event your plan does not cover those services. Making necessary changes to policy and culture more broadly are essential not only from an acceptance perspective, but also for retention – a Glassdoor survey indicates 45% of employed queer Americans believe coming out or being out could harm their careers.
-Share resources: Providing specific resources – like Forge Forward’s compilation of transgender- and non-binary-specific reproductive health resources – is not only an important show of solidarity, but also an opportunity to provide basic facts and education to your employees. More broadly, supporting and aiding employees in creating ERGs displays organizational commitment to employees’ comfort and sense of belonging.
Above all else, promoting gender acceptance in the workplace comes down to fostering mutual respect for all employees. A culture of respect that is responsive to shifting societal norms will serve everyone from employees and managers to customers and clients.
RALIANCE is a trusted adviser for organizations committed to building cultures that are safe, equitable, and respectful. RALIANCE offers unparalleled expertise in serving survivors of sexual harassment, misconduct, and abuse which drives our mission to help organizations across sectors create inclusive environments for all. For more information, please visit www.RALIANCE.org.