Promoting inclusivity in the workplace helps to create a safer and more open environment for employees — especially for marginalised communities like the LGBTQIA+. Being inclusive means recognising and changing the culture that discriminates against minorities.
However, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that LGBTQIA+ employees still face discrimination that often get overlooked. Discrimination can come in many forms — microaggression, exclusion and, worse, verbal harassment rooted in a collective lack of understanding of peers.
Recently, a study conducted by the Human Rights Campaign found that 46% of lesbian, gay, and bisexual employees experience discrimination, and this forces them to hide their identities at work. Meanwhile, the figure goes up to 55% for closeted transgender and nonbinary identities who fear being judged by their peers.
Another HRC study showed that 80% of straight and cisgender people think that it’s okay for LGBTQIA+ employees to come out at work. However, 59% of those people prefer to avoid conversations about sexual orientation and gender identity.
Gay and trans employees avoid coming out to their peers because of the impact it can have on their emotional and physical wellbeing. Many of them feel that their co-workers will avoid them because of their sexual orientation or gender expression — which just leaves them feeling isolated and depressed.
About a third of LGBTQIA+ employees reportedly suffered from anxiety, depression and exhaustion because of their unwelcoming working environment.
LGBTQIA+ employees also face a disparity in their wages compared to cisgendered, heterosexual workers. An analysis of thirty studies also found that male employees who identify as gay earned 11% less than heterosexual men.
What is allyship and why is it important?
Learning more about inspiring allyship in the workplace can help resolve and, at the same time, prevent these issues at work.
Allyship means actively supporting members of marginalised groups like the LGBTQIA+ and understanding their struggle. It starts when we give minorities what they really deserve — opportunities to be seen and be heard.
In the workplace, business leaders can spark conversations about allyship to make sure that no one suffers from discrimination and exclusion based on identity.
Here are some tips on how to inspire LGBTQIA+ allyship in the workplace:
Speak up against microaggression. An HRC study found that 53% of LGBTQIA+ employees have heard derogatory lesbian and gay jokes at work. Holding your employees accountable for making microaggressive jokes shows that you care about the well-being of everyone in the team. If the power balance at work is healthy, then nobody has to worry about being shunned because of who they are.
Start conversations about equality, equity and inclusion. Learning about gender inclusive language and asking someone about their pronouns can inspire everyone in the workplace to become more open and receptive to learning about queer identity. Normalising these conversations helps to increase awareness in the workplace. Ultimately, talking about sexual orientation and gender identity expression removes unrecognised biases and stereotypes against the community.
Promote self-learning at work. It is essential to learn about the concept of intersectionality — a way of thinking that connects a person’s race, class and identity to the advantages and disadvantages they receive in life, especially in the working environment. This can help you better understand the struggles of trans people of colour at work.
Address barriers hindering self-expression. In the workplace, employers should scrutinise barriers that discriminate against LGBTQIA+ people. Barriers like the dress code and workplace arrangements should be considered by employers in order to inspire allyship at work.
Becoming an ally of the LGBTQIA+ community can inspire everyone to recognise the importance of promoting gender equality. But it's not enough to simply say you’re an ally — it should be an active commitment we make to support minorities and create a safer space for everyone.