Ensuring policies and benefits are LGBTQ+ friendly
It is no secret that well-planned policies and comprehensive employee benefits can increase productivity, employee engagement and retention. For this, organisations need to ensure every employee feels recognised, safe and supported for these policies and benefits to be effective.
Creating policies and benefits that meet the needs of their LGBTQ+ staff not only creates a culture of inclusivity but there is also a strong business case for doing so. One study found that the US economy could save $9 billion each year by adopting more inclusive LGBTQ+ policies.
Further studies have also shown that LGBTQ+ supportive policies can:
- Increase job satisfaction
- Enhance creativity and innovation
- Improve job commitment levels
- Increase health and reduce sickness/absence levels
- Reduce discrimination at work
- Increase your customer base and recruitment drive
- Improve coworker relationships
- Encourage greater disclosure in the workplace.
Despite these benefits, many workers believe there is insufficient support for LGBTQ+ people.
In the UK, one survey found that one-third of employees feel policies are not inclusive enough. Furthermore, 63% of employees say they struggle to get senior leadership buy-in for policies that don’t support the majority of the workforce. So much so, 65% of those surveyed say their organisation does not have the policies and benefits for specific minority groups as they believe the policies must be broad enough for the majority of the population.
However, with the benefits that LGBTQ+ inclusive policies can provide, there are several aspects that organisations can consider to make their policies and benefits more inclusive and accessible.
Review policies for inclusive wording
To increase equality and diversity in the organisation, reviewing policies for LGBTQ+ inclusive language is essential. It is well worth reviewing the policies to ensure there is nothing discriminatory for LGBTQ+ people, for example, any sections on parental or adoptive leave or office bathrooms.
It may help to have a separate policy that sets out the organisation’s commitment to LGBTQ+ inclusion and precisely what it will do to tackle discrimination and bias.
Consider family and fertility support
One area of workplace benefits that can feel particularly isolating for LGBTQ+ people is fertility and family support. Starting a family with aspects such as surrogacy, adoption, or donor fertility can create a huge emotional and financial strain. All of this can impact all workers, but there may be additional complications for LGBTQ+ individuals and ensuring this support is tailored, and relevant is hugely important.
Deliver regular training
To create an organisation of LGBTQ+ allies, delivering regular training can help the workforce better understand bias, perceptions, issues and the challenges for LGBTQ+ people. Training around your policies, as well as regular equality and diversity training, can be a great way to build allyship and greater workforce education and support.
Finally, LGBTQ+ events are worth celebrating and can contribute to the organisation’s benefits. From creating team-building events for pride month or increasing inclusion on the Trans Day of Visibility to delivering training in LGBTQ+ History Month can boost employee engagement and increase inclusion and awareness.