Steps LGBTQ Employees Can Take

3/17/2015

It can be daunting for homosexual employees to talk about their sexual orientations in the workplace. After all, some members of today’s workforce have ambivalent or even hostile attitudes toward Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgender and Questioning members of society. Indeed, despite the enormous advances of the LGBTQ community in recent years, both in terms of judicial equality and widening social acceptance, they still suffer many forms of discrimination both inside and outside the workplace. This could come in the form of aggressiveness or exclusion, or being subject to mockery by their peers and colleagues.

While many organizations include LGBTQ awareness in their Diversity & Inclusion policies, there are steps that homosexual individuals can take on their own in order to help their companies create and sustain an inclusive environment.

If they feel comfortable helping to advance inclusion in their workplaces, LGBTQ employees can take an active role in minimizing discrimination and unfairness and maximizing positive outcomes. One way to do this is by educating their colleagues about the best ways to refer to their sexual orientation – for example, by steering them away from using expressions such as “alternate lifestyle” or more derogatory terms, and suggesting more acceptable ways of speaking. Another way is to push their HR departments to adopt equal benefits for homosexual partners, and they can ask their management to make available educational material on LGBTQ issues. They can also search out allies who can help them reinforce an inclusive culture by practicing the respectful use of language and promoting awareness of potentially exclusionary behaviors and attitudes.

If an LGBTQ individual is searching for a job, before they join a company, they may want to seek advice and referrals from friends and allies about which organizations are the most LGBTQ-friendly. They may also want to determine which organizations include sexual orientation in their nondiscrimination policies and offer equal benefits.

It is not up to members of the LGBTQ community to change their workplace culture, but if they wish to help their organizations take positive steps toward their D&I goals, they can become proactive supporters of full inclusion.

Cheryl Williams