The Positive Impact of Supporting the LGBTQ+ Community in the Workplace
“The majority of individuals in the U.S. support the LGBTQ communityand seek out places to work and spend their money based on the diversity and inclusion practices of the company. Employers see the positive impact in almost all aspects of business, from employee recruitment and retention to revenue and profits.” (Society for Human Resource Management)
Leadership that chooses to embrace and celebrate diversity is reaping the rewards. Doing so enhances workplace culture. Culture is an important focus for competitive advantage and letting your culture fall behind, by not creating an inclusive workplace, could lead to a competitive disadvantage. This article will focus specifically on the impact of supporting the LGBTQ+ community.
“According to an analysis of data in the Census Bureau’s recent Household Pulse Survey, 8% of respondents identified themselves as LGBTQ+, suggesting previous surveys undercounted the population.” (Human Rights Campaign, 2021)
Of course, outright discrimination is illegal. Leaders need to understand that although a lack of support for the LGBTQ+ community is not a discriminatory act, a lack of support is viewed as an act of exclusion. Exclusion could occur because some may feel that these are sensitive social topics to discuss, especially in the workplace. Leaders or workers alike may choose to stray away from these discussions to avoid saying or doing the wrong the thing. To exclude what may be upwards of 8% of the workplace, will not go unnoticed. Let’s assume that this number is more like 10%, understanding that not all LGBTQ+ self-identify in such surveys. A lack of open support for LGBTQ+ in a workplace could play out in the following ways:
- In addition to normal turnover rates, up to 10% of new hires exit within the first year because they identify as LGBTQ+ and feel unsupported at work.
- Application rates are reduced by up to 10%, because LGBTQ+ applicants see no evidence of an inclusive workplace on the firm’s website and choose not to apply.
Those certainly are not the only possible impacts, but it makes a palpable point. Now understand that this does not include LGBTQ+ allies. Allies may also choose workplaces based on a culture that provides support to the community and a lack thereof will push away this talented worker group as well.
Looking at this from the flip side, we can then consider the positive impact that can take place for an organization not currently making efforts to openly embrace the LGBTQ+ community. Again, people choose where they work based on this support being existent. Investing in inclusive efforts such as celebrating Pride month, providing inclusive workplace training or using gender-neutral language could lead to an optimistic increase in applications and retention. As you widen the applicant pool, you also increase your access to top talent that contribute to competitive advantage.
The article “Creating a Trans Inclusive Workplace” focuses specifically on transgender support within the LGBTQ+ community. Here, we are reminded that inside the community transgender members continue to face greater hardship in comparison. Workplaces can enhance their present support of the community by openly supporting the transgender community as well. “The overriding reason to address this issue is that it’s simply the right thing to do. Nobody who works hard and contributes to an organization’s success should ever have to feel stigmatized and fearful of coming to work each day. But that’s not the only reason. A failure to adopt trans-specific policies and practices can cost businesses dearly in the form of higher turnover, decreased engagement and productivity, and possible litigation.” (Thoroughgood et al., 2020)
Where should a firm start with trying to improve their support of the LGBTQ+ community? Here are some valuable resources:
Human Rights Campaign. (December 9, 2021). We Are Here: LGBTQ+ Adult Population in United States Reaches At Least 20 Million, According to Human Rights Campaign Foundation Report [Press Release]. Retrieved from https://www.hrc.org/press-releases/we-are-here-lgbtq-adult-population-in-united-states-reaches-at-least-20-million-according-to-human-rights-campaign-foundation-report
Society for Human Resource Management. Ensuring Workplace Inclusion for LGBTQ Employees. https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/tools-and-samples/toolkits/pages….
Thoroughgood, Christian N., Sawyer, Katina B., Webster, Jennica R. (2020, March-April) Creating a Trans Inclusive Workplace. Harvard Business Review.
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