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The HR RoundTable: Fostering LGBTQ Inclusion in the Workplace

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In the evolving world of business and human resources, embracing diversity and inclusion has become more than just a trend – it’s an imperative. With a significant portion of Gen-Z identifying as LGBTQ+, it’s time to address the vital relationship between sexual orientation, gender identity, and workplace culture. Let’s explore some critical aspects of leadership and how they play a role in supporting LGBTQ+ inclusion.

Our most recent HR RoundTable featured Fabrice Houdart, the co-author of the United Nations LGBTQ+ Standards of Conduct. We explored the changing dynamics of workplace inclusivity, focusing on how leadership can support LGBTQ+ employees. The following insight comes from Fabrice himself.

Tone at the Top: Leadership’s Belief and Commitment

Fabrice shares: Leadership’s genuine belief in LGBTQ+ equality makes all the difference. When the tone at the top is clear, when leadership recognizes that LGBTQ+ equality is not only a human rights agenda but also good business, then the path towards inclusion becomes attainable. What we don’t want is a facade where diversity is simply a checkbox. We must strive for authenticity, where companies don’t just say they support diversity but demonstrate it at every level. As a striking case, look at organizations where senior management teams lack diversity. That sends a powerful message that diversity is not a value.

Coming out and being visible as LGBTQ+ in the company isn’t always correlated to a supportive environment. But personal experiences, like those of prominent CEOs who came out late in their careers, show that shedding the burden of shame can change relationships at work.

Self-Identification and Representation

Creating an environment where employees feel safe to self-identify as LGBTQ+ is an essential step in inclusion. This goes beyond mere onboarding procedures and staff surveys; it means fostering a culture where every individual is seen and accepted. However, representation must also extend to the boardroom. Despite progress on rank-and-file employee inclusion, LGBTQ+ representation in senior management and C-suite levels remains disproportionately low. This under-representation sends a mixed message and is something that needs urgent addressing.

Metrics and Measuring Success

What gets measured gets managed. Companies must establish clear metrics to gauge the success of their inclusion efforts. Are they truly LGBTQ+ inclusive? The numbers will provide the answer, but only if they are the result of genuine efforts, not hollow endeavors. This aspect also involves adjusting for certain industries that may attract more or less LGBTQ+ people. While there may be differences in various sectors, examples of companies doing very well in inclusion exist across industries. Sometimes, the industry is less important than the tone set by the leadership.

The Human Rights Lens

It’s essential to remind the private sector that LGBTQ+ equality, like gender or racial equality, falls under the human rights agenda. Major companies are already acknowledging this, expressing support for initiatives like unf.org/standout. However, progress is slow, with only 0.7% of Fortune 500 board members identifying as LGBTQ+.

Moving Forward To A Better Future

LGBTQ+ inclusion is not just about ticking boxes or avoiding lawsuits. It’s about embracing diversity as a core value and integrating it into every aspect of a company’s culture. From the top-down leadership approach to metrics, representation, and viewing inclusion through a human rights lens, businesses have the tools and responsibility to foster an environment where everyone is respected and included. In a world where diversity is not just a buzzword but a business imperative, it’s time for leaders to not just talk the talk but walk the walk. After all, inclusivity is not a “distraction from business;” it is essential to business.

Join the next HR Roundtable

Don’t miss our next discussion! Sign up for TemPositions’ next HR Roundtable here. This SHRM certified event will earn you or your HR team members 1.5 professional development credits.

Note: This blog post is based on the detailed information provided in TemPositions’ “The HR RoundTable.” The information reflected in this post is not official legal advice.

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