With June being ‘Pride Month’ how do you ensure you workplace remains inclusive for LGBT+ employees?
The month of June is officially recognised as ‘Pride Month’, a time when individuals and organisations are encouraged to come together to celebrate LGBT+ awareness and promote greater inclusivity. Employers may want to use this time to reflect on their own business practices and determine where more support can be given to LGBT+ employees at work.
An equal opportunities policy is a common inclusion in employment documentation but there may be some employers who are still to introduce one. This is a key part of an overall anti-discrimination ethos and will emphasise a commitment to promoting diversity and protecting staff from discrimination based on any protected characteristic, including sexual orientation.
Having said this, simply having a policy in place will only go so far and it will be important to ensure these principles are truly embraced in everyday business practices. For example, employers would do well to review their hiring processes to see where existing methods may be unfavourable for LGBT+ applicants. For example, job application forms shouldn’t contain any questions relating to an individual’s sexuality or gender identity. Although there may be a need to determine applicants’ gender in some instances, employers should consider how this may impact certain members of the LGBT+ community and afford individuals the option to select ‘other’ in these scenarios.
Employers mustn’t deny employment due to a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010, as those that do could find themselves having to answer in front of a tribunal. This is why it’s always advisable to have multiple interviewers present to prevent unconscious bias influencing hiring decisions and instead base these on a predetermined checklist of skills and experience.
It is also important that employers look to prevent LGBT+ employees suffering bullying or harassment at work. This can occur at the hands of fellow colleagues or third parties and it is wise to have a clear anti-bullying and harassment policy, which has a particular focus on the dangers of workplace banter.
It is vital that a reliable grievance reporting method is in place for any LGBT+ staff who feel they have been a victim of discrimination, bullying or harassment. All complaints must be treated seriously and dealt with in a professional manner, as failing to do so may make staff less likely to report any incidents in the future.
Employers may also need to think how existing uniforms and dress codes could discriminate against certain members of the LGBT+ community, in particular those who have undergone gender reassignment. Although this can often be a sensitive topic, recent government guidance has reiterated the need to allow individuals to dress in accordance with the gender they identify as. The same principle should also be applied to bathroom and changing facilities and employers should consider holding private conversations with staff on this, introducing gender-neutral facilities wherever necessary.
In light of ‘Pride Month’ all employers are advised to take a good look at their existing policies and procedures to see where there may be room for improvement. It is not a coincidence that the most successful and prosperous organisations tend to be the most inclusive. Therefore, employers should take the opportunity to embrace individuality and promote equality wherever possible.