February is LGBT+ History Month, where we look back on the experiences of gender and sexually diverse people, and those who have fought for the rights that LGBT+ folk have today. For businesses, it can also be a time to look to the future, and think about how you can better support your LGBT+ employees. Here are a few ways that you improve your workplace, and safeguard and support your gender and sexually diverse staff.
Talk to your LGBT+ employees
The best way to identify how to improve your workplace for LGBT+ people is to talk to your LGBT+ employees. You could do this by sending an anonymous survey to your teams, so none of your staff are forced to disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity, and everyone can still give their feedback. By asking about positive and negative experiences LGBT+ employees have had within your business, you can get a good idea of what you’re doing well, and any changes you need to make.
Create inclusive policies
Your workplace policies can indicate to LGBT+ employees that your business is a safe place to be themselves. This might mean having a clear and accessible Equality and Diversity policy (ACAS has a free template here), ensuring that there is a straightforward route for LGBT+ employees to follow in cases of harassment or discrimination, or adapting the language used within policies to be inclusive of all identities (Bristol University has a guide to using inclusive language here).
Include your pronouns
Even something as simple as including your pronouns on your email signature communicates to gender diverse employees that your workplace is inclusive. Listing your pronouns as part of your email signature is becoming commonplace for many businesses, and it signals to those you’re writing to that you respect and affirm the gender identities of others. It’s important to stress that including your pronouns is optional rather than mandatory; employees should always make their own decision of whether to share their pronouns.
Become a Stonewall Diversity Champions
In 2001, the UK Charity Stonewall created a Diversity Champions Programme, which sought to help businesses and organisations become more inclusive and support their LGBT+ employees. The Diversity Champions Programme provides business with advice and guidance to creating an inclusive workplace, as well as a personal manager who helps guide organisations through this journey.
Stonewall’s Diversity Champions Programme is scalable, and is suitable for all businesses and organisations regardless of size or sector.
Give back to LGBT+ charities
The North East is home to some excellent LGBT+ charities that are doing incredible work for the community. Humankind offers support to young people between 11 and 25 who live in Sunderland, South Tyneside or County Durham, and provide 1:1 support, sexual health guidance, family support, hate crime reporting and support to access clinical gender identity services.
Hart Gables is a LGBT+ charity in Hartlepool that has been operating for nearly two decades. Their focus is on 1:1 support for gender diverse and sexually diverse people, as well as offering youth groups and family support. They offer services across the North East including Durham, Middlesbrough and even virtual meetups.
Rainbow Home is a charity which supports asylum seekers in the North East who are LGBT+, and have fled their countries due to persecution. Rainbow Home supports members throughout their asylum case, including report writing, support in court and offering regular group activities.