Article: Is your organisation truly transparent? Openness is key to LGBTQIA+ inclusion


Is your organisation truly transparent? Openness is key to LGBTQIA+ inclusion

Pride lies in being direct, talking straightforwardly, and welcoming the contribution of ideas from team members at all levels across the business, says Dionne Woo of SiteMinder.
Is your organisation truly transparent? Openness is key to LGBTQIA+ inclusion

With the changing mindset of workers towards employee experience, the management of the workforce calls for a change too. Demonstrating agility and resilience is not confined to the realm of the workforce but has also reshaped leadership.

Today’s workforce looks forward to working in a safe and inclusive workplace. But do DEI&B policies truly cover the LGBTQIA+ employees? A survey released in May 2021 showed 46% of LGBTQIA+ employees still faced inappropriate behaviour at work.

People Matters spoke to Dionne Woo, Chief People Officer of hotel e-commerce platform SiteMinder, about those challenges:

Workers today call for a change in the method of workforce management. How can an employee-leader dialogue raise awareness on inclusivity?

Transparency and open communication between leaders and employees should be at the very core of organisational culture. SiteMinder believes that the policies around the LGBT+ employees should be direct, talk straightforwardly, and welcome the contribution of ideas from team members at all levels across the business.

Sankar Narayan, SiteMinder’s CEO and MD, holds a monthly virtual town hall meeting in each region where he shares key operating metrics, people news and updates on major projects with all staff, and a fundamental aspect of that regular session is the live Q&A. Employees have the opportunity to anonymously submit questions in real time, and Sankar answers them during the meeting. While these exchanges can touch on difficult or controversial topics, we believe all employee questions are worthy of respect and highly value the engagement that they represent. Attendance is consistently high, and importantly the meetings set a tone of open communication that can then snowball throughout the business.

How did remote working affect the mindset of people towards LGBTQIA+ employees? Was there any change noticed in inclusivity towards them?

Ensuring that the staff are educated on both the upside and downside of the LGBTQIA+ employee experience while working remotely should be a part of the DEI strategies of companies.

For some within the LGBTQIA+ community, remote work can be more isolating than normal, amplifying the exclusion they feel in a traditional working environment, or highlighting their lack of home support. While, for others, remote work can be a safe space to carry out a job without having to worry about the factors that intersect in a standard workplace. It can also be particularly useful when LGBTQIA+ people are transitioning or dealing with mental health issues.

By maintaining regular education sessions with our external partner, Pride in Diversity, we seek to provide our people with all the tools they need to be more inclusive in their day-to-day lives. This, alongside ensuring that our Pride Employee Resource Group is active and filled with supportive allies (including company leaders) and making our support more overt with small yet significant initiatives such as providing new meeting backgrounds to celebrate LGBTQIA+ days of significance, has meant that we’ve been able to lean into our LGBTQIA+ community more now, than before remote working became a reality.

Do you think that redrawing diversity policies can have a sustainable impact on employee retention in a market running short of talent?

Absolutely. LGBTQIA+ employees want to work in an environment that’s free from discrimination, where they can be 100% authentic and be recognised for the work they do, and this is not only a huge driver of retention but also of attraction.

It is vital to create a genuinely impartial and unbiased workplace for employees. We offer equitable parental leave policies for women, men and LGBTQIA+ members, and ensure that our management staff are acutely aware of any individual biases they may hold.

We also deeply understand that, without diversity, we rob ourselves of the creative thinking, innovative ideation and stronger bottom-line results that truly diverse teams have the capacity to deliver.

Can you share a snapshot of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the ANZ region? How are HR professionals making the work environment better for all?

It’s undeniable that the workplace of today is vastly different to even the recent past, with growing evidence displaying that talent acquisition, retention and business performance are all inextricably linked to strong DEI policies. Global movements like Black Lives Matter have heightened awareness around systemic issues for minority groups and shone a light on the need to champion diversity in all areas of life, including the workplace.

In fact, over four-in-five (84%) Australians say it’s important that the organisation they are applying to supports DEI initiatives. It’s a sentiment shared in New Zealand, with three-in-four NZ employers confirming that diversity is a priority area for their organisation.

Across the ANZ region and around the world, it cannot be overlooked how disproportionately the pandemic impacted people in minority groups. This placed DEI even higher on the agenda, as companies were under the microscope as to how they responded to the crisis and supported those most vulnerable. For a number of ANZ businesses, COVID-19 accelerated the extension of DEI policies beyond umbrella measures to more targeted efforts to help level the playing field, which was an important holistic development.

How is SiteMinder working towards creating an inclusive working environment for LGBTQIA+ employees?

Openness has been at the core of SiteMinder’s business for over 15 years. In fact, it is the essence of our brand. With offices in seven locations globally, the organic diversity of our team by culture, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and religion has long been openly celebrated.

For our LGBTQIA+ community specifically, an environment of inclusion has been fostered from both the top-down and bottom-up, and by partnering with external organisations like Pride in Diversity to hold events for all employees, we can raise awareness of the unique challenges faced by our LGBTQIA+ employees, both at work and in society.

We know that building LGBTQIA+ policies grounded in equality will lead to improved health and work outcomes — minimising stress and anxiety, increasing job satisfaction and allowing our LGBTQIA+ community to thrive. 

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Topics: Diversity, Culture

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