From the ‘Lavender Scare’ in mid-century America to the UK’s pivotal Employment Equality Regulations in 2003, LGBT+ workplace rights have come a long way.
But that doesn’t mean businesses can dust their hands off and call it a day.
Even in 2022, the LGBT+ community still face discrimination, microaggressions and wellbeing issues at work. Without valuable policies and wellbeing support in place, these employees could struggle to meet expectations and stay mentally healthy.
But this doesn’t have to be the reality in your workplace. With the right culture, strategy and tools, you can change this.
LGBT+ discrimination in the workplace
Let’s start by painting a picture of the LGBT+ employment experience as it is today. The following statistics speak for themselves:
- 40 percent of LGB employees and 53 percent of trans employees experienced a workplace conflict within the last 12 months.
- 12 percent of trans employees have been physically attacked by customers and colleagues.
- 35 percent of 18-29-year-old LGBT+ employees hide who they are to avoid discrimination.
- 28 percent of business owners and board members are advised to hide their sexual orientation at work.
- 31 percent of non-binary people and 18 percent of trans people feel like they can’t wear work attire representing their gender expression.
- 17 percent of LGB and 34 percent of trans employees are excluded by their colleagues.
What does this mean for your workers?
As it stands, 81 percent of LGBT+ employees experience mental health problems. Almost half of these employees have a formal mental illness diagnosis.
Of course, workplaces aren’t entirely to blame for this. Societal, political and personal problems do play their part. But your organisation can contribute to these wellbeing issues, particularly if you ignore or don’t call out discriminatory behaviours.
Of those who experience prejudice in the workplace:
- 33 percent feel alienated.
- 34 percent don’t share ideas.
- 80 percent would not recommend their employer.
Over time, this feeling of isolation will fester. Your once seemingly resilient employee may become more stressed and depressed. This, in turn, may lead to absences and decreased productivity.
It’s your job to prevent this from happening.
Don’t ignore the underlying problems
If you want to make your workplace more inclusive, you have to understand the root of the problem first. More often than not, this lies with your people.
One of the biggest barriers to inclusion is bias, whether it be conscious or unconscious. Indeed, 56 percent of LGBT+ employees experience bias at least once a month. Yet only 27 percent of LGBT+ employees feel comfortable talking to their colleagues about it.
And, when you dig deeper, the problem only gets worse:
- 30 percent of employees ignore bias they witness or experience.
- 50 percent of all workplace conflicts that trans employees experience go unresolved.
- Only 31 percent of trans employees say their workplace offers trans-inclusive practices. Many respondents cited D&I training, trans-inclusive language, and manager guidance as inadequate.
Keep these statistics in mind as you move forward. When increasing your inclusivity, you may need to tackle these issues.
How to foster an LGBT inclusive workplace
You’re reading this article because you want to change this narrative. You want to foster an inclusive workplace and improve your LGBT+ employees’ wellbeing.
So, let’s do just that.
We recommend the following:
- Invest in extensive D&I training. Choose training that’s delivered by experts - such as Stonewall or Mermaids - and is inclusive for all identities within the LGBT+ community.
- Make diversity and inclusion part of your business’s DNA. There are a number of ways you can do this, from celebrating pride events to making your meetings more inclusive. You should aim to build an environment that’s safe and supportive for everyone.
- Call out unacceptable behaviours Your employees - LGBT+ or not - should be able to report discrimination or bullying without fear.
- Resolve conflicts immediately. Create a zero-tolerance culture, where discriminators receive apt discipline for their words or actions. This will help your LGBT+ employees feel supported and provide psychological safety.
These actions will increase inclusivity, tackle bias, and minimise discrimination. But there are further ways you can support your LGBT+ workers.
Support your employees’ wellbeing
Remember, a majority of LGBT+ employees experience mental health problems. And some members of the trans community may face hardships accessing physical healthcare or transitioning advice.
To improve your employees’ wellbeing, we strongly suggest offering LGBT-inclusive health benefits.
Our holistic health and wellbeing app, Symbio, provides personalised advice, virtual GP services, and LGBT-friendly counselling from clinically-validated professionals. This empowers your LGBT+ employees to manage workplace and home life stressors, seek the support they need, and improve their mental health.
To find out more about delivering health benefits your employees value, download our guide.