How can you support LGBTQIA+ employees at work?

We’re taking you through some of the main challenges your LGBTQIA+ staff may face so you can support them with more understanding and empathy.

First published on Friday, Mar 01, 2024

Last updated on Friday, Mar 01, 2024

3 min read

Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras festival ends in the famous parade this weekend. This year, 2024, marks the 46th annual parade.

While the festivities see flags flying high and plenty of celebration to boot, this time shouldn’t be limited to simply gestures and shows of support. The ultimate goal should be making a real difference.

It should also be a time to reflect on all the ways members of the community come up against unique adversities. That includes in the workplace.

This year’s theme is Our Future, so what could be more fitting than to take steps to create an equitable future in the workplace and beyond?

Let’s dive into some ways you can support your LGBTQIA+ employees all year round.

1. Understand the unique challenges your LGBTQIA+ employees may be facing

Recent data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics reveals that Australians with diverse gender identities and sexualities are two to four times more likely to experience a mental disorder than the rest of the population.

Even within those figures, there are differences within the community. For example, the rates of those who experience a mental disorder like anxiety or depression sit at:

  • 64% of gay and lesbian people
  • 80% of bisexual people
  • 93% of those who use a different term

This compares to 42% of heterosexual people who experience mental disorders.

Nicky Bath, the CEO of LGBTQI+ Health Australia said that these figures are a direct result of the ongoing prejudice, stigma, abuse, and discrimination the community battles.

As an employer or leader in your business, it’s important you not only support your LGBTQIA+ employees with mental health resources, but also create a culture of awareness in your workplace.

Awareness-building with accessible courses can help you tackle unconscious biases and discrimination rooted in ignorance at work.

2. Ensure top-to-bottom representation

Representation is important for every community, especially in the workplace.

Having visible allies at work can make your staff feel safe, and see that opportunities are available for them to grow and progress.

To facilitate this representation, your hiring process needs to give all candidates equal opportunities. From your job adverts to your interview process, your process should never discriminate against LGBTQIA+ candidates.

While some of the changes you need to make may require an overhaul of your recruitment process to avoid bias, other changes may be as simple as using gender-neutral language.

3. Eliminate “invisible” barriers to progression and acceptance

Many LGBTQIA+ employees may feel the need to hide their sexuality at work for fear of discrimination.

This can lead to them being exposed to many other dangers, including not reporting experiences of homophobia or other forms of abuse to their managers and employers.

You may not be automatically aware of this in your business, which is why it’s important to take preventative, proactive steps to protect your employees. Making sure your staff members feel safe, accepted, and inclusive is vital to helping them perform to the best of their abilities.

One of the best ways to do this is by establishing zero-tolerance policies against bullying and harassment. Creating these policies, rolling them out, and updating them as needed helps you set the right note from the second a new employee is onboarded to your team.

4. Have the right procedures in place

As already discussed, having representation and preventative policies in place is valuable. But it’s just as important to have a procedure in place to deal with issues if and when they arise.

A fundamental step to maintaining an inclusive workplace is ensuring that employees feel safe and heard when they raise issues. If employees feel that they aren’t believed or taken seriously when they are treated unfairly, team morale will drop and turnover is more likely to rise in your business.

Remember, it’s not just your LGBTQIA+ staff members who are impacted, your entire workplace will suffer from a lack of inclusivity.

Make sure you have processes in place for staff members to report problematic behaviours, and that your HR policies include a plan of action for how these issues will be addressed.

If a crisis at work escalates, you can also turn to employment relations advice and speak to experienced advisers for assurance that you are taking the right steps.

If you, or someone you know, needs help please call:


1800 184 527 - 3:00pm-10:30pm

Australia’s first nationally-oriented counselling and referral service for LGBTIQ+ people.


13 11 14 – crisis support available 24/7

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