We spend about half our day, if not more, in our workplace, and this means that our coworkers are the people we meet and see the most during the week, and some of them become part of our work family. However, not all workplaces are as diverse as we want them to be. Diversity is essential, and now that we’ve just come into the new year and 2022 is starting.
Diversity and inclusivity in the workplace have many advantages for both employers and their employees, and it has a lot of benefits. Creating a diverse workplace is not a fad, and it has tangible and direct benefits and decreases employee turnover. So, without further ado, let’s learn the importance of workplace diversity and what it entails.
In the United States alone, an estimated 1.4 million individuals who are 16 and above identify as members of the LGBTQIA+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, and Asexual) community as of 2019. However, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation found that 46% of queer workers say they are still closeted in the workplace.
Some of the main reasons behind this are fear of supportive managers, feelings of isolation and exclusion, or even homophobic jokes. Half of the non-LGBTQIA+ employees report that there are no openly out individuals in their company. 1 in 5 queer employees have been told or have coworkers imply that they dress too feminine or masculine, while this number for their cis and straight coworkers is only 1 in 24.
1. Stand up against homophobia
More than half of 53% of queer employees say that they have heard [derogatory] lesbian or gay jokes in their workplace. So, if you hear anything like this, whether you are queer or not, call out the person and teach them why that is inappropriate behavior, especially in the workplace.
Try building a workplace that has a no-tolerance policy when it comes to discrimination, and you lead by showing the example. Nip the issue in the bud by addressing it quickly, and as a manager, show your team that you have an open-door policy. Strive to show that you have a queer-friendly policy and that you respect your employees no matter their sexual orientation.
Not everyone in the queer community feels comfortable disclosing their sexuality, and some people may not even feel comfortable bringing these things up even if they were faced with discrimination disguised as jokes. Use your voice and power to uplift the voices of those who feel like they have no power.
2. Gender-neutral terms
This is a rather simple way to show inclusivity in the workplace. Ask people about their preferred pronouns and refer to them as such. If you don’t know someone’s pronoun, use the single they/them pronoun and ask them what their preferred pronouns are. It is a very easy thing to do, and if you ever call someone by the wrong pronoun, apologist and correct yourself. Mistakes happen, and as far as this is a genuine mistake, the person will understand.
Use more gender-neutral terms when talking, the English language is vast, and there are many words to refer to someone without using a gendered term. Instead of husband or wife, use terms like spouse and partner. You can also use words like firefighters, law enforcement officers, or sales representatives instead of firemen, policemen, or salesgirls. These literal things matter to people who have been marginalized.
3. Educate yourself
Before you can be the voice of reason and help your employees flourish in their job, you need to educate yourself about queer issues. Start by learning about queer history and culture, and you can do this by talking to your employees or reading a book on the matter. By learning about the issues that queer people face, you can recognize them and call them out, especially in the workplace.
Knowledge is power, and by showing your employees, you are learning about their history, it shows how much you care about them, and they aren’t just a pawn in your game. If you don’t know where to start, we recommend starting with the Stonewall website, which even has a section dedicated to how to create and maintain an inclusive workplace.
Sound off in the comments section below and tell us what you want to read next and if you want to read more about having a queer-friendly workplace.