How HR Can Prepare for Shifting LGBTQ Identities
There was a time not too long ago when we had some separation in our personas between “work” and “home.” Then the shift to remote work happened, and we were logging into Zoom meetings—and in many ways, our colleagues’ lives.
Two years into a new normal, many of us our bringing our whole selves to work. This means we’re not stepping into our work personas anymore; instead, we’re sharing more of who we are with work. It’s a movement that’s been underway for some time—Forbes highlighted the importance of authenticity and connection years before the pandemic—but it’s gained steam in a time during which many of us confronted questions of purpose and priority.
Add to this the increasing emphasis on diversity, inclusion, and equity in the workplace to foster greater innovation and address societal reckoning. Many people have, or are ready to, share more of themselves in the workplace, but doing so can provoke strong feelings, from vulnerability to concerns about discrimination. Yet coming out at work can be a pivotal milestone for many employees—and a make-or-break moment for the relationship with an employer.
How can HR professionals prepare for shifting LGBTQ identities and encourage a culture of inclusivity in the workplace? Here are some best practices.
Why LGBTQ inclusivity in the workplace matters
Discrimination is a common experience for many LGBTQ individuals, whether in the workplace or outside the home. Because of this, it’s essential to have difficult conversations, examine unconscious biases, and evaluate the workplace and its culture to create a more inclusive environment.
The unfortunate reality is LGBTQ workplace discrimination is persistent for global companies in certain areas, countries, or cultures, and it can be challenging to create or extend non-discrimination protection and offer inclusive benefits to these employees while remaining in compliance with local laws and customs.
Developing inclusive HR policies
Inclusivity means respecting and celebrating people’s differences across all dimensions of those differences. It moves us all forward while also being good for business. When employees are respected, supported, and included, personal and professional benefits accrue, from higher retention to improved performance and productivity, so inclusivity truly is a win-win.
Inclusivity can be encouraged and supported in ways large and small. HR leaders can take steps like advancing company culture around pronouns, for example. Using correct, preferred pronouns is a sign of respect for an individual’s identity. Encouraging employees to add their pronouns to their email signatures and videoconferencing display names are easy first steps in a remote or hybrid environment. As in-person meetings resume, employees can practice introductions that also include their preferred pronouns.
Another area where HR professionals can advance inclusivity is company benefits. LGBTQ-friendly benefits can allow policyholders to add any family member to their benefits. In addition, relocation benefits can be made more inclusive or employees can be offered additional travel reimbursement to cover these expenses. Paid leave policies can also be expanded or enhanced for LGBTQ parents and caregivers.
As mentioned previously, there are areas in the world in which discrimination based on sexual orientation is more prevalent; LGBTQ employees can be given the option to decline rotations or assignments to these areas without negative consequences.
Training also plays a key role in advancing inclusive culture. Done well, training can help employees recognize unconscious biases in interactions or in the hiring process. It can also help to create safer spaces for conversations on inclusivity, even those that can be uncomfortable.
In addition to these initiatives, HR leaders can champion the way companies show support, from founding ERGs and BRGs for employees to support for Pride events and much more.
How is your company advancing inclusivity, especially for LGBTQ employees?
DallasHR is the third-largest SHRM affiliate chapter in the nation. With more than 2,000 engaged HR professionals, the Chapter has been Advancing the Value of HR since 1939 through innovative education, valuable networking events and providing opportunities to share best practices with others in the field of HR. The HRSouthwest Conference powered by DallasHR, is the official Texas SHRM conference and one of the largest regional HR events in the U.S. Visit us at Dallashr.org, hrsouthwest.com and follow us at #dallashr, #hrswc.