Inclusion is more than a box to check, it’s an employer imperative.
Diversity, equity and inclusion has become a table stakes commitment for most employers; from DE&I statements to involvement in charitable causes, organizations are largely taking the right steps to communicate to their employees and candidates that they care about all of their workers. But is that enough?
According to a study from the Society for Human Resources Management, nearly 80% of organizations with DE&I initiatives underway are just “going through the motions,” not actually holding their leadership accountable for real, measurable progress on DE&I. The research found that simply mandating one-off training or issuing position statements isn’t enough to create truly inclusive environments—that has to start by embedding DE&I throughout the entire organization, closely aligning it with business strategy and holding leaders accountable.
Given that June is Pride Month, this is a particularly relevant recognition for employers looking to recruit and retain top LGBTQ+ talent. And that proportion of the workforce is growing—and quickly!
Gallup recently found that one in five adults in Generation Z, the newest entrants to the workforce, identifies as a member of the LGBTQ+ community. That’s a significant swath of your potential employee pool—and if you’re not creating genuinely welcoming workplaces for them, your bottom line is going to take a hit. For instance, SHRM found that more than three-quarters of young workers polled said that they would not work for an employer that lacks a DE&I strategy.
So, how can you best show up for your LGBTQ+ workers (and candidates)? There are several strategic, yet simple and cost-effective, ways to take your support to the next level:
Prioritize executive buy-in—and leadership:
Investing in DE&I, including with a focus on the LGBTQ+ community, needs to be a priority across the organization’s leadership—from the CEO and the entire C-suite to the board of directors. These will be the decision-makers who will direct funding and resources to solidifying the investment, so they must be on board. And get involved! Have leadership attend DE&I-focused events, both within and outside of the company, to drive home the support.
Employee resource groups can be a vital tool to fuel inclusive environments, including for LGBTQ+ workers. However, don’t let ERGs operate in silos; the more leadership can be attuned to the feedback of ERGs, the more they can shape strategy to meet the needs of current and future employees.
Don’t forget culture:
Employers looking to enhance their support for LGBTQ+ individuals will certainly explore how their policies and programs can be strengthened—for instance, trans-inclusive health benefits and gender-neutral parental leave—but just as important is the culture at work. What is the language people are using? Do all employees feel like they can comfortably talk about their personal lives? Are LGBTQ+ people given a fair shot at promotions? Tackling these deeper, systemic issues can be among the most important steps an employer can take to create sustainable change for all their employees.
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