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Challenges LGBTQ+ People Face At Work

Challenges LGBTQ+ People Face At Work

How LGBTQ+ Employees Fare At The Workplace

eLearning Industry kicks off Pride Month celebrating and acknowledging for yet another year the significance of inclusion and diversity in the workplace. Thanks to increased visibility and cultural acceptance, many members of the LGBTQ+ community feel safer being their true selves in their workplace than a few years ago. The groundbreaking ruling issued by the Supreme Court in 2020 that prohibited businesses from firing workers on the grounds of their sexual identity has undoubtedly contributed to that. However, there are still issues LGBTQ+ people face that can negatively impact their mental health and motivation. In this article, we will look into some of these challenges as well as measures organizations can take to support their employees.

3 Challenges LGBTQ+ Members May Come Across At Work

Discrimination

Despite the many improvements in the work environment for LGBTQ+ workers, discrimination remains a concern for many. A 2021 survey with 935 LGBTQ+ participants revealed that nearly half of them had experienced unfair treatment in their workplace, whether that was being fired or not hired at all, losing promotions, or not receiving raises due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. In many cases, this led workers to hide their true identities or alter their behaviors to avoid discrimination.

Fear Of Coming Out And “Covering”

Coming out in the workplace is often a challenging decision. Many people fear such a revelation might negatively impact their careers and cause discrimination against them. Also, they are afraid their professional relationships will be affected. While coming out is obviously optional and a deeply personal decision, LGBTQ+ employees often feel the need to cover their sexual orientation. Such covering behaviors could include altering their behavior, changing their physical appearance, or avoiding disclosing any information about their personal lives.

Assumptions About Their Sexuality

It is normal for coworkers to engage in discussions unrelated to work. They frequently talk about their personal lives and possibly about their partners. A challenge that LGBTQ+ employees who haven’t come out often face is assumptions about their sexuality. For example, assuming that a male coworker’s partner is a woman. Although these guesses are often not ill-intentioned, they can still put LGBTQ+ employees in a difficult position of having to unwillingly disclose information about their personal life or lie to protect it.

5 Ways To Overcome The Challenges LGBTQ+ Employees Face

1. Normalize Pronoun Use

Using the wrong pronouns to refer to a person might make them feel insecure and uncomfortable. Therefore, it’s essential for organizations to use inclusive language and respect everyone’s selected pronouns. When new members come in or people from separate departments collaborate, it’s best to encourage asking the other person what their preferred pronouns are instead of making assumptions. Normalizing discussions about gender and sexual identity ensures a safe and accepting workplace. Additionally, companies must implement a zero-tolerance policy against derogatory language around the office to ensure that their employees feel valued and respected.

2. Provide Training

A corporation is responsible for fostering a peaceful and inclusive workplace, and enforcing LGBTQ+ inclusion training will achieve this goal. New hires and older employees should go through this training and learn how to recognize and report acts of discrimination. A few topics that can be discussed are LGBTQ+ terminology, implicit bias and its meaning, inclusive conduct, and ways to be an ally. Support groups can provide presentations to better explain these topics. Also, employees might be willing to share their personal points of view and help others understand why inclusivity matters.

3. Create And Support Employee Resource Groups

Another way to foster an inclusive and supportive environment is to encourage employees to form resource groups. Employee resource groups (ERGs) are typically networks consisting of colleagues who have similar backgrounds and share the same purposes. An ERG often makes LGBTQ+ personnel feel less alone in the workplace and offers them resources to overcome their struggles. Also, they assist in their development and networking, ensuring that their sexual orientation and identity do not become a hurdle for them in the workplace.

4. Offer LGBTQ+ Benefits

According to HRC, 66% of the most successful companies worldwide offer trans-inclusive perks. All employees should have access to benefits that will facilitate their daily lives and work-life balance. Such benefits would include healthcare and support leave for transitioning employees, mental health resources, parental leave for same-sex couples, etc. And let’s not forget the significance of all-gender facilities, which will contribute to employees feeling safer in the workplace. Taking such steps to make your organization more inclusive doesn’t only support the well-being of LGBTQ+ employees but also makes them feel like they belong.

5. Educate Yourself And Be An Ally

Every individual, regardless of their sexual identity, should try to educate themselves instead of expecting others to be their teachers. They must research to learn how they can be not just accepting of their diverse coworkers but rather active allies. An ally supports their colleagues and stands up for their rights. To become a supporter, someone must fully understand the challenges LGBTQ+ people are facing and commit to helping them out in any way they can. Additionally, they shouldn’t make assumptions and must engage in conversations to ensure that they are continuously improving their knowledge on the matter and their behaviors.

Create Inclusive Workplaces For LGBTQ+ Employees

Despite the huge strides made in the working environment for diverse employees, especially members of the LGBTQ+ community, there is still room for progress. LGBTQ+ people still face challenges in the workplace, such as discrimination or unfair treatment from colleagues and supervisors. In this article, we suggested 5 steps organizations can take to ensure that they have created a corporate culture that embraces diversity and makes employees feel seen, thus boosting their well-being and increasing their morale and productivity.

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