Pride Month: 6 Ways You Can Build a Gender-inclusive Workplace
For the LGBTQ+ community, June is the month of celebration and pride. And for you, it is a nudge to peek inside and evaluate your stand in supporting the LGBTQ+ community.
Researches reveal that the last few years have substantially pushed the progress for LGBTQ+. Yet, more than half (57%) of LGBT+ employees believe their gender identity and expression, or their sexual orientation has slowed their progress at work. And shockingly, only 31% of LGBTQ+ employees are fully open about their gender identity or sexual orientation at work.
Figures further fall to 21% when it comes to leaders’ openness about their gender identity and sexual orientation at work. Stats reflect how difficult is it for the LGBTQ+ community to identify themselves in the workplace.
Startling as it seems, there are a breadth of steps an organization can take to address this problem. But forced solutions and action do not lead to cultural and mindset shift. You need to lay the foundation right and lead with an example to push the change. Below is a list of 6 such fundamental practices that will help you build a gender-inclusive workplace.
1. Educate, Educate and Educate
Yes, we can’t emphasize this enough. Majority of the population still can’t comprehend the existence of another gender other than male or female. And lack of education around gender identity further festers people’s understanding of stigma and prejudices.
Therefore, if you give paramount importance to diversity and inclusion, you must educate employees regularly about gender identities. Make it an integral part of your employee on-boarding training programs to set the expectations right at the time of joining.
Few of the information that you must cover during the training are,
- Existence of multiple genders and how they differ from one another
- How to treat every gender without being indifferent
- How gender diversity contributes to a team’s performance and why is it important
- Gender harassment implications and policies
2. Use Gender-Neutral Language on Company Documents
‘Diversity’ and ‘Inclusion’ are thrown around in the workplace often during onboarding, review meetings, and rewards and recognition ceremonies. But we often neglect the granular realities during implementation. As a result, you will find your company documents are filled with gender-biased words and sentences reflecting your subconscious bias. Incorporate a gender-neutral language to consciously address these biases.
- Instead of mentioning gender as “men” and “women”, write “people” in your documents. Replace “he/she” with “they”.
- Swap out “Man” words. For instance, use “Businessperson” in place of “Businessmen”, “Personnel” in place of “Manpower”.
- Add “LGBTQ+” as a sex option in company forms in addition to “Male” and “Female”
3. Enforce Gender Diversity Policy
Creating and implementing a strict gender diversity policy is imperative to build a gender-inclusive workplace. Especially when one-fifth (20%) of LGBTQ Americans have experienced discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity when applying for jobs.
In such scenarios, devising policies becomes the first step to safeguard the LGBTQ+ community’s rights. As of 2020, 93% of Fortune 500 companies have non-discrimination policies that include sexual orientation.
While drawing up policies, you must strictly and clearly outline the punishable behavior along with repercussions of violating it. Being clear and firm with what is unacceptable helps you avoid any future mishaps and prevents you from any undue advantage taken by offenders.
4. Offer Gender-Neutral Restrooms
Transgenders are most troubled while using any amenity that discreetly asks them to conform to a binary gender.
About one-fourth amongst the 90% of transgender facing discrimination were forced to use restrooms that did not match their gender identity.
If you are keen on strengthening your workplace diversity, you would need to be apprised of your workforce day to day activities and address basic issues like restrooms.
By providing gender-neutral restrooms, you create a safe space for the non-binary gender where they are not forced to identify themselves as male and female before availing access to basic amenities.
This simple step sends a clear message to the employees about your cognizance towards employee’s needs and vision to consciously provide an inclusive work environment.
5. Leverage Employee and HR Data to Modify LGBTQ+ Hiring Strategy
To build a gender-inclusive and diverse workplace, you need to hire more and more diverse employees. But before starting the hiring there are a series of questions that you must get answers to.
Start with understanding your current hiring pattern.
Is there any bias that is hindering you from hiring LGBTQ+ employees? Do you see gender dominance in departments? If yes, analyze what are they? Dig deeper into HR data to understand if in past LGBTQ+ candidates were not hired. What were the probable reasons that hindered their hiring?
Question the status quo. Dig deep into your hiring biases to formulate more gender-inclusive hiring strategies. Analyzing existing data to understand the current hiring patterns will help you build LGBTQ+ friendly recruitment processes and break you free from the inherent biases.
6. Build Safe Space for LGBTQ+ Employees
Building a safe space for the LGBTQ+ employees inside the organization should be more than stringent policies. For non-binary gender to feel safe, you must provide them a platform to voice their concerns, struggles, and suggestions without being wary of judgments.
Building in-house LGBTQ+ communities achieve this purpose. It provides them a platform to collectively communicate, creates awareness, and spread the message of positivity.
Fostering confidence and courage, these platforms make the non-binary gender feel safer and more inclusive. It provides them the right support to come out with their problems and raise their concerns which otherwise would have never been heard. Further, collective issues raised on these platforms also help organizations identify any biases that might taint the workplace.
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