How can you support LGBTQIA+ employees at work?

BrightHR breaks down some of the main challenges your LGBTQIA+ staff may face so you can support them this LGBTQIA+ Pride Month and beyond.

First published on Friday, Mar 03, 2023

Last updated on Friday, Mar 03, 2023

4 min read

Celebrated across the country, this February marks Australia’s 45th annual Mardi Gras Parade and LGBTQIA+ Pride Month.

It’s been 45 years since Sydney’s first annual gay pride march in June 1978. Mardi Gras remembers and honours the members of the community who bravely protested their rights during the Stonewall Riots. And celebrates the long-term mark they’ve left on LGBTQIA+ history.

Over the years, Australia has taken several steps forward. Lots of anti-homosexuality laws have been lifted progressively between 1975 and 1997. And since 2003, more state legislation has been introduced to take crucial steps towards equal rights for same-sex couples—like marriage equality, which was finally legalised in 2017.

Despite these landmark leaps forward, the LGBTQIA+ community continue to face challenges in and out of the workplace. So, in honour of Pride Month, BrightHR looks at the main challenges your LGBTQIA+ staff face at work and how you can help.

What are the challenges?

1. Your business lacks company-wide representation

The main message during LGBTQIA+ Pride Month is the importance of representation for people in the community. This got us thinking about why representation is so important in the workplace.

To make staff feel safe at work, it’s super valuable for business leaders to be visible allies. And it’s just as important to make sure that your hiring process reflects your commitment to equality.

According to GLEE@PwC(1), a high number of people believe that coming out at work will have a negative impact on their career and chance of promotion. That’s why it’s key to make sure your processes don’t discriminate, give everyone an equal opportunity, and that job adverts are reflective of all members of the community.

If you’re unsure about how to make your recruitment processes fair for everyone and free of unconscious bias—get expert advice to avoid recruitment discrimination.

2. Your staff are victims of “invisible” barriers to progression and acceptance

You may not be aware of some of the barriers that exist for LGBTQIA+ staff in the world of work. According to Diversity Council Australia2, LGBTQIA+ employees are 45% less likely to be satisfied with their job and are twice as likely to feel down than employees who are out and accepted in the workplace.

To spread the message of acceptance and inclusivity, it’s important to create an environment where your staff feel safe. A cost-free way to do this is by establishing a committee where employees can talk about the issues and suggest changes in your organisation. Encourage employees to be ambassadors and educators on these issues—without putting anyone on the spot, of course!

Making sure you have effective HR policies helps to instil a zero-tolerance approach towards bullying and harassment—allowing staff to bring their authentic selves to the workplace.

3. Your company is missing a structure to raise concerns anonymously

Creating an open environment where staff can raise issues without fear is fundamental to an inclusive workplace.

A common reason why LGBTQIA+ workers won’t report negative comments is that companies often don’t have the correct procedure in place. This makes employees believe their concerns will not be taken seriously and that no action will be taken even if they do choose to speak up.

Equality in your workplace benefits you too. It’s not just your LGBTQIA+ workforce that will leave if you fail to make your workplace inclusive. Being witness to unfair treatment will impact your entire team’s morale.

And if you want to combat quiet quitting (the phenomenon that staff are getting less and less engaged) and retain your top talent—you need inclusive HR policies in place now more than ever.

So, how can you help?

As an employer, it’s important you understand that sexuality and gender are sensitive issues for your staff. Not every employee will feel comfortable being their true self at work or revealing it to their line managers.

Making sure your workplace is inclusive, and that you have the latest advice to navigate conversations with your LGBTQIA+ staff will keep employees happy, engaged, and productive. Because a workplace that champions equality is a better place—not just for you and your team, but for your business as a whole.

Support your staff all year round with the latest employment relations advice from BrightAdvice.

Speak to your BrightAdvice team today on 1 300 029 198.

Not a BrightAdvice customer? Discover more about our expert advice line.

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