If your LinkedIn page looks a bit more colourful than usual, it’s probably due to the appearance of rainbow flags from companies keen to show their support for Pride Month and the LGBTQ+ community! Your local High Street or shopping centre may be the same.
I’m not here for the politics of whether all companies doing this are genuinely LGBTQ+ inclusive or are guilty of jumping on a Pride bandwagon instead of a Pride float. Instead, I’m here to share some facts and stats about being LGBTQ+ in the workplace and offer some tips for being more LGBTQ+ inclusive.
Let’s start with the benefits of having a more diverse workforce. Diversity is, of course, about so much more than sexual orientation or gender identity, so here are some stats on general diversity and how it can affect the performance of an organisation…
Corporations identified as more diverse and inclusive are 35% more likely to outperform their competitors. (McKinsey)
Diverse companies are 70% more likely to capture new markets. (HBR)
Diverse teams are 87% better at making decisions. (People Management)
Diverse management teams lead to 19% higher revenue. (BCG)
Inclusive companies are 1.7 times more likely to be innovative. (Josh Bersin)
These are big claims. How can this be so? The truth is we are creatures of habit, and our brains have evolved to turn to our past experiences for solutions. This makes perfect sense. But it is not good for creativity.
When it comes to group mentality, it stands to reason that a diverse team will look at things in different ways. It’s obvious that they will come up with ideas from differing viewpoints, their contributions shaped by their own experiences, thoughts, and beliefs. Combined, this simulates the process of divergent thinking but on a larger scale. If each employee has a thought process unique to their own experiences, the ideas generated should be as diverse as the team itself. The more diverse the team, the more diverse the contributions, ideas and solutions.
Also, diverse groups are far more likely to make a conscious effort to drop any pre-existing bias towards ideas and suggestions. They are more likely to question their own decision-making and reach further. And they are likely to be more mindful when considering others’ contributions.
If that means the process takes a little longer, the end results will be worth the extra time and effort.
Have you ever worked in a team or on a project where all the members were very similar? If so, things probably flowed relatively quickly and easily. But were there any real sparks of inspiration? Were boundaries pushed in the name of new idea generation? Or was the status quo pretty much unchallenged throughout?
Two out of three job candidates seek companies that have diverse workforces. (Glassdoor)
74% of millennial employees believe their organisation is more innovative when it has a culture of inclusion, and 47% actively look for diversity and inclusion when sizing up potential employers. (Deloitte)
78% of employees who responded to a Harvard Business Review study said they work at organisations that lack diversity in leadership positions. (HBR)
Millennials are 83% more likely to be engaged at work at inclusive companies. (Deloitte)
According to Deloitte, Millennials will make up 75% of the global workforce by 2025. So ignoring what they consider to be important seems more than a little foolish to me. Clear mission, collaboration and communication, and diversity are hugely important to them. Gen Z workers are very similar, so these priorities aren’t about to change. It’s clear that, to attract and keep the best new talent, companies must commit to very real inclusivity and diversity policies (starting at, and with, recruitment), rather than just sticking a rainbow flag next to their logo for one month each year.
And so, to our own rainbow-flag-waving bit! Here are a few stats about our LGBTQ+ colleagues, courtesy of BCG.
40% of LGBTQ+ employees are not out at work, and 26% of these individuals wish they could be out.
36% of out employees have lied or “covered” parts of their identities at work in the past year.
54% of employees who are out at work remain closeted to their clients and customers.
75% reported experiencing at least one negative interaction related to their LGBTQ+ identity at work in the past year, with 41% experiencing more than ten types of such interactions.
So, how can organisations proactively work to attract and support LGBTQ+ employees? Here are ten tips from us.
Develop a clear mission statement for supporting LGBTQ+ people in your organisation. Communicate this to everyone at every level and arrange I&D training if it’s required.
Take any discrimination seriously and take swift action if any arises. Transphobic behaviour is no more tolerable than homophobic behaviour, which is no more tolerable than racism or any other bigotry or discrimination.
Set up an LGBTQ+ network or develop support programmes for LGBTQ+ people
Appoint, promote and celebrate allies.
Consider supporting the local LGBTQ+ community, businesses, groups or events.
Check that your policies and benefits do not unintentionally discriminate through outdated wording or gendered language. Policies for parental and adoption leave, for example, may need updating to be fully inclusive.
Check that your comms are fully inclusive and ensure gender-neutral terms are used throughout your organisation, especially by leaders. Tone of voice, common language or terms of endearment can inadvertently exclude. For example, using “partner” is far safer than assuming a husband or wife.
Celebrate LGBTQ+ history and events.
Consider creating gender-neutral or unisex bathrooms.
List your pronouns in email signatures, social media platforms and meetings.
Want to learn from the best? You could read about how the Macquarie Group topped Stonewall’s list of the 100 best employers for LGBTQ+ people here.