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Pride Month: more than just rainbows. Embracing diversity and supporting LGBTQ+ employees.



If your high street, social media feeds and LinkedIn pages are looking a little more colourful than usual, that will be because June is Pride month, and many organisations will be keen to show their support for their LGBTQ+ employees and the wider community.

 

June was chosen, history fans, because of the Stonewall Riots, which began on June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn in New York City. These riots were a response to a police raid on the gay bar, which was a common occurrence at the time. The patrons of the bar, along with other members of the LGBTQ+ community, fought back against the police, sparking several days of protests and clashes. This event is widely considered the catalyst for the modern LGBTQ+ rights movement​.

 

Now, I’m not here for the politics of whether all the companies splashing their rainbows across your Facebook newsfeed are genuinely LGBTQ+ inclusive (or if they’re guilty of jumping on a Pride bandwagon instead of a Pride float). Instead, I’d like to look at some facts and stats about being LGBTQ+ in the workplace and offer some tips for being more LGBTQ+ inclusive.

 


According to the Home Office workforce diversity statistics (2022 – 2023), 5% of our workforce identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual or “other” in 2023. In the 2021 census of England and Wales, only 3.2% of the population aged 16+ identified as LGBTQ+, although a further 7.5% chose not to answer that question. According to a 2021 Gallup poll, 7.1% of U.S. adults identify as LGBTQ. This represented a significant increase from earlier years, reflecting greater social acceptance and willingness to self-identify. So, it seems safe to assume that between 5% and 10% of your workforce may identify as LGBTQ+. That figure could well be higher in certain locations and industries.

 

The benefits of a diverse workforce have been frequently and widely shared and shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. And, before we share a few recent stats on that, we know that sexual and gender identity are only a small part of the wider field of diversity, and that a truly diverse workforce will include people of all colours, religions, cultures, ages, neuro-diversities, physical abilities, and backgrounds and experiences, as well as those who identify as LGBTQ+.

 

That said, here are a few recent stats that highlight the significant benefits of a diverse workforce.


  1. Innovation and Creativity: Companies with above-average diversity scores generate 45% of their revenue from innovation, compared to just 26% for those with below-average diversity scores. Diverse teams bring varied perspectives, which foster creativity and more effective problem-solving.​ (SelectHRRecruit)​​ (TeamStage)​.

  2. Financial Performance: Diverse management teams lead to 19% higher revenue. Additionally, gender-diverse executive teams perform 21% better than their less diverse counterparts.​ (InStride)​​ (McKinsey & Company)​.

  3. Market Growth: Companies with diverse teams are 70% more likely to capture new markets, demonstrating the competitive edge gained through varied insights and approaches.​ (InStride)​​ (TeamStage)​.

  4. Decision-Making: Diverse teams outperform individuals in decision-making by up to 87%. This is because diverse groups can consider a broader range of potential solutions and perspectives.​ (InStride)​​ (SelectHRRecruit)​.

  5. Employee Retention and Motivation: Diversity in the workplace enhances employee retention and motivation. Employees in diverse environments report higher levels of engagement and are more likely to stay with their employer. (SelectHRRecruit)​​ (TeamStage)​.

  6. Company Reputation and Brand: Companies that embrace diversity are perceived as more socially responsible and are seen as better places to work. This enhances companies’ reputations and attractiveness to potential employees, especially among younger generations who prioritise diversity and inclusion.​ (SelectHRRecruit)​​(TeamStage)​.

  7. Financial Goals and Shareholder Returns: Companies that are open to inclusion are 120% more likely to achieve their financial goals. (TeamStage)​




So, turning our attention back to our LGBTQ+ friends and colleagues for Pride month, how can organisations proactively attract and support LGBTQ+ employees?


Develop Inclusive Policies:


  • Mission Statement: Develop a clear mission statement for supporting LGBTQ+ people in your organisation and communicate this to everyone at every level.

  • Non-Discrimination Policies: Implement and enforce policies that explicitly prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. According to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), 93% of Fortune 500 companies have such policies​ (Catalyst)​. Please don’t be part of the 7% that don’t.

  • Benefits Equality: Ensure that benefits offered to employees are inclusive of LGBTQ+ circumstances and needs. Check that your existing policies 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.

Create an Inclusive Culture:


  • Diversity Training: Conduct regular diversity and inclusion training that includes specific modules on LGBTQ+ issues. This helps to educate employees about the unique challenges faced by LGBTQ+ individuals and promotes empathy and understanding​.

  • Supportive Leadership: Encourage senior leaders to openly support LGBTQ+ inclusion. Visible support from leadership can set the tone for the entire organisation and signal to employees that the company is committed to inclusivity​​.


Employee Resource Groups (ERGs):


  • LGBTQ+ ERGs: Establish ERGs focused on LGBTQ+ issues to provide support, networking opportunities, and a sense of community for LGBTQ+ employees. These groups can also serve as advisors to the company on LGBTQ+ matters​​.

  • Allies Networks: Promote the creation of allies networks where non-LGBTQ+ employees can learn how to support their LGBTQ+ colleagues and advocate for inclusion within the workplace​​.


Recruitment and Retention:


  • Inclusive Recruitment Practices: Use inclusive language in job postings and recruitment materials, and ensure that recruitment processes are free from bias. Partner with LGBTQ+ organisations and attend LGBTQ+ career fairs to reach a broader talent pool​​.


Visibility and Representation:


  • LGBTQ+ Representation: Promote the visibility of LGBTQ+ employees in company communications, and ensure they are represented in leadership positions. Highlighting LGBTQ+ role models within the organisation can inspire and reassure other employees.

  • Celebrate LGBTQ+ history and events: Be they company-specific, local, national or international, shout about the progress milestones, wins, and important events. Make sure LGBTQ+ celebrations are not restricted to the month of June!

  • Inclusive internal comms: 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. Encourage the use of preferred pronouns in email signatures and on social platforms.

  • Inclusive Marketing: Include LGBTQ+ individuals and themes in marketing and advertising to show external stakeholders that the company values diversity and inclusion​​.


Supportive Work Environment:


  • Zero Tolerance for Harassment: Implement a zero-tolerance policy for harassment and discrimination, and ensure that all employees are aware of the reporting mechanisms and that complaints are handled swiftly and fairly​​. Transphobic behaviour is no more tolerable than homophobic behaviour, which is no more tolerable than racism or any other bigotry or discrimination.

  • Safe Spaces: Create safe spaces where LGBTQ+ employees can share their experiences and concerns without fear of retribution. This could include confidential support services and mental health resources​​.

  • Gender-neutral bathrooms: Consider creating unisex or gender-neutral bathrooms.

 


And what about internal comms during Pride month? Of course, as stated above, inclusivity and celebration of diversity should be an all-year activity, and entrenched firmly into your comms strategy. But there’s nothing wrong with using the month to shine an even brighter (rainbow) spotlight on the great things that you do for your LGBTQ+ colleagues. See here for eight tips from your Gurus.

 

And if you’d like more tailored support with anything to do with your internal comms offering, why not drop us a line? We’d love to help you make your comms shine bright!

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