Pride Month is celebrated each year in June to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in New York City, and honor Americans identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (trans), queer, intersex, asexual and other gender identities (LGBTQIA+). This group includes more than 20 million adults, or nearly 8% of the adult US population. Pride is an important social construct, and presents an opportunity for companies of all sizes, across all industries to reaffirm and showcase their commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I). Building a more diverse workforce that includes LGBTQIA+ people isn’t just good for business; it’s the law. Let’s take a look at five important ways that companies can attract, hire and retain LGBTQIA+ employees.
1. Get real: Take stock of current workforce diversity
Many organizations may consider themselves to LGBTQIA+ friendly, with a culture that supports and respects gender-diverse employees. The employee experience, however, may be quite different. In “How the LGBTQ+ community fares in the workplace,” McKinsey & Co. reports, for example:
Our research shows that stress increases when a person experiences “onlyness,” or being the only one on a team or in a meeting with their given gender identity, sexual orientation, or race. Employees who face onlyness across multiple dimensions face even more pressure to perform. For LGBTQ+ women, who are workplace minorities in both gender and sexual orientation, the only experience is common—and particularly challenging—in corporate environments. LGBTQ+ women are twice as likely as women overall to report being an “only,” and they’re seven times more likely to say so than are straight white men. LGBTQ+ women of color are eight times more likely than straight white men to report onlyness.
The stress of onlyness is echoed in a survey conducted by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, which found that LGBTQ+ employees who feel the need to hide their identity in the workplace often feel greater levels of stress and anxiety. A majority (61% of respondents) reported that their job leaves them mentally and physically tired.
Given the potential disconnect between corporate perceptions and reality, it may be the right time to consider a third-party evaluation of LGBTQIA+ inclusion and diversity efforts. Here’s why:
- Employees are more likely to be open, honest and feel comfortable sharing their opinions and suggestions anonymously or with an external party, regardless of their gender identity and sexual orientation.
- Surveys and focus group discussions can help uncover areas where DE&I efforts are succeeding and where there is room to improve.
- An external firm brings expertise in understanding what gender-diverse employees and candidates need and appreciate from their employers and workspace. Current LGBTQIA+ employees can engage in the process and serve as champions across the wider organization.
2. Take a closer look: Review existing policies, processes and HR infrastructure.
DE&I programs will fall flat unless intention is coupled with action. Corporate policies and benefits must reflect a commitment to including LGBTQIA+ employees with appropriate language and processes. Take a fresh look at:
1. Recruitment: With the help of recruitment experts, review your organization’s job postings to ensure they are free of bias, both conscious and unconscious. Use an augmented writing tool like Textio to ensure that messaging is right.
2. Employees: In order to be a true LGBTQIA+ ally, your company must treat all employees equally, starting with HR fundamentals:
- Health benefit programs should serve everyone, regardless of their gender or orientation. Moreover, medical benefits should support the needs of transgender employees.
- Life insurance must include same-sex and gender-diverse partners.
- Spousal tax benefits must extend to gay marriage partners.
Research and set policies, making sure they include language about prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Review policies periodically to ensure they conform with regulations and the company’s DE&I objectives. At a corporate level, engage with LGBTQIA+ networks and organizations such as the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce.
Don’t keep your company’s LGBTQIA+ stance and policies a “best-kept secret.” Promote them to both employees and prospective employees. Make information about your support for the LGBTQIA+ community and commitment to DE&I easily accessible, adding it to the corporate mission statement, annual report, careers site and other high-visibility internal and external vehicles. Be sure to include gender-diverse employees in reward and recognition programs.
3. Seek and find: Proactively search for LGBTQIA+ talent.
Reach beyond the usual demographics to include LGBTQIA+ job boards, and use job ads to explicitly state the organization’s commitment to gender-diverse inclusivity. Try posting jobs on boards like Campus Pride, LGBT Connect, and Pink Jobs LGBT.
Don’t forget: there are a variety of AI-driven tools available to help target the right niche sites, as well as removing unconscious bias and gender-coded language from job ads.
As candidates progress through the recruiting process, examine the shortlisting, interviewing and hiring stages to find and detect biases. Again, consider third-party expertise to evaluate inclusion and diversity practices at all stages of talent acquisition.
What’s next? Retaining LGBTQIA+ employees
Come back to the Joveo blog next week for Part 2, which will dive into two key strategies to retain LGBTQIA+ employees. And follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn, where we’re always working to help you get the most out of your recruitment advertising.
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