8 Ways to Build an LGBTQ2+ Inclusive Workplace

  • Equality & Diversity
members of the LGBTQ2+ community holding hands
Kiljon Shukullari

Kiljon Shukullari, HR Advisory Manager

(Last updated )

The LGBTQ2+ community has historically faced significant marginalization, exclusion, and discrimination in the workplace. Despite significant strides towards greater acceptance and inclusion of LGBTQ2+ individuals in recent years, there is still a long way to go. Creating truly equitable and supportive spaces for all employees, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, is a major step for ensuring diversity in the workplace.

According to a study by Pride at Work Canada, only 14% of businesses consider the knowledge of LGBTQ2+ inclusion a requirement for managerial roles. This lack of education brings an increased risk for both indirect and direct discrimination at work, increasing the risk of building a culture of distrust and fear for many employees.

Additionally, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation found that 46% of LGBTQ2+ employees chose not to be open about their sexual orientation or gender identity in the workplace due to fears of losing relationships with coworkers. This kind of exclusion can lead to making employees feel uncomfortable, being stereotyped, and not being considered for promotions.

As an employer in Canada, it is crucial you take steps to support the LGBTQ2+ community in your workplace. Below we explore some of these strategies and provide actionable advice on how to implement them.

How to create an LGBTQ2+ inclusive workplace?

One of the most important steps you can take to support the LGBTQ2+ community in your workplace is to create a culture that is welcoming, accepting, and supportive of diversity. This can involve several different strategies, including:

  • Developing an anti-discrimination policy that explicitly includes sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression as protected grounds.
  • Providing regular training to all employees on issues related to diversity and inclusion, including LGBTQ2+ issues.
  • Ensuring that all employees are aware of the company’s commitment to creating a safe and inclusive workplace culture and encouraging them to report any instances of discrimination or harassment.
  • Celebrating diversity and promoting inclusion through company-wide events, such as LGBTQ2+ Pride Month celebrations or other cultural events that are important to members of the LGBTQ2+ community.
  • Providing resources and support for employees who may be struggling with issues related to their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, such as counselling services or access to support groups.


Ways to address challenges to LGBTQ2+ workplace inclusion

There are several ways you can implement change to address the challenges LGBTQ2+ persons face in the workplace.

Provide diversity and inclusion training

Diversity and inclusion training is one of the most effective ways to build a LGBTQ2+ inclusive workplace. By educating employees on the history, terminology, and phrases associated with LGBTQ2+ identities, you can create an environment where queer employees feel comfortable voicing their concerns. This training can also equip straight and cisgender employees with the knowledge and sensitivity necessary to engage in these conversations.

Diversity training is not only beneficial for LGBTQ2+ employees but also for their straight and cisgender colleagues. By providing this training, companies can help foster greater understanding and respect between employees of all sexual orientations and gender identities. It can also help straight and cisgender employees learn how to be sensitive and supportive allies to their LGBTQ2+ colleagues.

Implement gender-neutral policies and practices

Another important step you can take to support the LGBTQ2+ community in your workplace is to implement gender-neutral policies and practices. This can help to create a more inclusive workplace environment that recognizes and respects the diverse identities and experiences of all employees. Your policy should include details of disciplinary actions to be taken in the event of a breach of said policy. Doing so will show the company’s stance on the issue and make LGBTQ2+ employees feel supported.

Some specific strategies you might consider include:

  • Providing gender-neutral washrooms, changing rooms, and other facilities.
  • Allowing employees to use the name and pronouns that best reflect their gender identity, regardless of their legal name or gender marker.
  • Providing equal benefits and opportunities to all employees, regardless of their gender identity or expression. For example, ensuring that all employees have access to the same parental leave benefits, regardless of their gender.
  • Avoiding gendered language and stereotypes in all communications, including job postings, employee handbooks, and company policies.

Address bias and discrimination in hiring and promotion

While many companies strive to create an inclusive workplace culture, it is important to also consider the ways in which bias and discrimination may impact the hiring and promotion process. Some strategies you might consider include:

  • Ensuring that job postings use inclusive language and avoid gendered terms or stereotypes.
  • Providing unconscious bias training for all employees involved in the hiring and promotion process, to help them recognize and address their own biases.
  • Using blind resumes or other tools to remove identifying information, such as names or addresses, from resumes and applications to reduce the impact of unconscious bias.
  • Implementing diversity targets and regularly assessing progress towards achieving them.
  • Establishing clear and objective criteria for hiring and promotion decisions and ensuring that all candidates are evaluated based on these criteria.

Offer LGBTQ2+ inclusive benefits and perks

Offering benefits and perks that are specifically designed to meet the needs of LGBTQ2+ employees can be a powerful way to demonstrate your company’s commitment to supporting diversity and inclusion. Some examples of LGBTQ2+ inclusive benefits and perks might include:

  • Providing health insurance coverage for gender-affirming medical procedures, such as hormone therapy or gender confirmation surgery.
  • Offering flexible work arrangements to accommodate the unique needs of LGBTQ2+ employees, such as time off for medical appointments or family responsibilities.
  • Providing financial support for LGBTQ2+ employees who wish to adopt a child or start a family through surrogacy.
  • Offering employee resource groups (ERGs) for LGBTQ2+ employees, where they can connect with others who share their experiences and build supportive networks within the workplace.

Review your public presence

If you’re a Canadian employer looking to improve your LGBTQ2+ practices in the workplace, one crucial step is to review your public image. This includes analyzing everything from the colours, wording, and photos used in your business’ marketing campaigns and social media posts. Your content should aim to represent not only clients and employees, but also the diverse range of people and voices within the LGBTQ2+ community.

  • Creating an inclusive public presence can lead to several benefits, such as a better brand perception, increased brand effectiveness, higher levels of customer loyalty, and improved company pride and trust among LGBTQ2+ employees. If your LGBTQ2+ staff members do not feel represented in your marketing efforts, they may feel alienated and may consider leaving your company for a more inclusive employer.
  • Therefore, it’s crucial to ensure that your marketing campaigns and public image accurately reflect your commitment to diversity and inclusivity. By doing so, you can create a welcoming and supportive workplace culture that values and respects all employees, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Support LGBTQ2+ causes and charities

Finally, another way that Canadian employers can support the LGBTQ2+ community is by supporting causes and charities that are dedicated to advancing LGBTQ2+ rights and promoting inclusion. This can involve several different strategies:

  • Making financial donations to LGBTQ2+ organizations or charities, either as a company or by providing matching funds for employee donations.
  • Encouraging employees to volunteer their time and skills to support LGBTQ2+ causes, either individually or as part of company-sponsored volunteer events.
  • Participating in LGBTQ2+ community events and initiatives, such as Pride month, Pride parades, or fundraising events for LGBTQ2+ causes.
  • Partnering with LGBTQ2+ organizations to create new programs or initiatives that support the community, such as mentorship programs or job placement services.

Ask for employee feedback

As an employer striving to support LGBTQ2+ employees, it’s crucial to gather feedback on your inclusion policies and programs. Giving your employees a platform to voice their concerns is essential, as it shows that you value their input and are committed to creating a more inclusive workplace.

One effective way to receive employee feedback is through anonymous staff surveys. This approach can help ensure that employees feel comfortable providing honest feedback without fear of retribution. By actively seeking out feedback, you can identify areas where your workplace may be falling short of inclusive standards and take action to address these issues.

Do you need help creating policies against discrimination for your business?

As an employer, there are several steps you can take to support the LGBTQ2+ community. Creating a safe and inclusive workplace culture, implementing gender-neutral policies, and addressing bias and discrimination in hiring and promotion are a few ways to be supportive.

If you need assistance or guidance on implementing gender-neutral policies and practices, our HR advisors can help you implement, update, and review company policies, as well as assist you with any HR management, health & safety, and employment advice you may need. To learn more about how our services can benefit your business, call an expert today at 1 (833) 247-3652.

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