Despite all the progress we’ve made as a society, it has taken businesses a long time to wake up to the importance of an LGBTQ-friendly workplace. But an LGBTQ-friendly workplace isn’t just the right thing to do morally, it makes good business sense and is reasonably easy to implement.
The first and most important step to take towards a more LGBTQ-friendly workplace is to recognize and implement inclusive policies that make both LGBTQ staff and customers feel at ease, but also reinforce the collective responsibility of everyone in your business to show a tolerant and inclusive attitude towards the LGBTQ community.
Once you have formulated these policies, you then need to make sure that you enforce them properly. If you want to make lasting changes to the attitudes within your corporate culture, you will need to make sure that you are consistent in enforcing the message. You don’t have to take a heavy-handed approach with your workers; in fact, a light touch is often better. As long as you consistently reinforce the right messages and behaviors, they will soak into the general consciousness.
Even the most tolerant of us is prone to unconscious bias. We often can’t help the way that we feel about other people, especially when we are forming a first impression of them. These initial impressions are the result of a whole host of calculations that our subconscious makes for us. As a result, our primal instincts come into play and our monkey-brains get some input on the decision.
When we are faced with someone who we know to be ‘different’ from us – be they a different gender, race, or sexual orientation – we all exhibit unconscious biases to some extent. Obviously, this is very different to the conscious decision to reject someone on the basis of the aforementioned characteristics. What makes unconscious biases more difficult and insidious is that they are just that – unconscious.
Unconscious biases are exhibited even by people who hold no prejudices. Because of this, they often fly under our radars. Begin by changing your hiring practices so that you strip out as much extraneous information as possible. You can also begin to advertise for job postings specifically in LGBTQ publications.
The ethics of the businesses that you choose to work and associate with are also an important reflection of your own business ethos. Whenever you have to work with another business, evaluate your options and consider their attitudes and history.
For example, many businesses use price comparison websites like Utility Bidder to compare business gas prices and other energy costs. Next time you find yourself doing something similar, remember that the price is only one part of the equation. If you are only interested in chasing money, your morals are going to pay a price.
A more LGBTQ-friendly business isn’t just a more inclusive workplace; it is also a solid way of making your business more appealing. The so-called ‘pink pound’ has been booming in recent years. In the UK, it is really only relatively recently that LGBTQ lifestyles have been widely accepted, and there is a new market that is now maturing. However, if your business isn’t friendly towards the community, they are unlikely to give you their patronage.