As numerous studies performed over the past two decades have demonstrated, diversity and inclusion is good for business. According to a 2019 report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, companies that formalize inclusive policies are more likely to see higher financial performance than their peers who have not adopted these policies, and their employees report greater job satisfaction. Inclusivity also plays an important role in attracting and retaining top talent.
Despite significant progress toward LGBTQ inclusion in the workplace over the years, the LGBTQ community still faces unique challenges when it comes to employment, and their self-reported experiences indicate there is still a long way to go in terms of achieving full employment equality. Nearly half of LGBTQ employees in the U.S. stated that they remain closeted at work, and 75% reported experiencing negative day-to-day workplace interactions related to their LGBTQ identity in the past year.
Like all diversity initiatives, achieving equality in your recruitment process for LGBTQ talent starts with taking the steps to support existing LGBTQ employees and improve inclusion efforts within the workplace. With that in mind, here are ten ways you can ensure that your recruitment process is open and affirming for LGBTQ candidates.
#1 Show Your Pride
One of the more important steps you can take if you’re trying to recruit and hire LGBTQ talent would be to showcase your public support for the community. Candidates like to do their research on potential employers, and those who are passionate about diversity and inclusion will want to see clear evidence of where you stand on social issues. Some great ways to “show your pride” include acknowledging Pride Month in social media or other forms of external communication, providing LGBTQ employees with a platform to share their employee experience with your organization, or even participating as a company in pride events or parades.
#2 Support LGBTQ Charities & Causes
Celebrating Pride Month with rainbows galore and supportive posts on social media is great, but it’s important to remember that actions speak louder than words, and your LGBTQ inclusion efforts shouldn’t be relegated to just a single month out of the year. You can take your commitment a step further by supporting LGBTQ causes, charities, or community centers. Plus, this can also present a great opportunity to increase brand recognition amongst LGBTQ talent and get employees involved in team-building volunteer work, which has proven effective in increasing both job satisfaction and employee retention.
#3 Make Sure Workplace Policies Are Comprehensive & Transparent
Many employers have already taken the steps to make workplace discrimination policies inclusive of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, but it never hurts to review your policies. If you haven’t already added language about prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, expand your policy to include these conditions. Examine the benefits that you offer to make sure that you’re providing equal coverage for all employees, such as medical benefits for transgender workers and life insurance policies that cover same-gender partnerships. It’s also important to make sure these protections are made clear to employees and leadership, and that any reports of discrimination are taken seriously.
#4 Add Information About Inclusivity To Your Mission Statement & Career Site
Make information about your support for the LGBTQ community and commitment to diversity in general easily accessible. When potential candidates are researching your company, you don’t want them to have to dig too hard to find out where you stand on the issues. Communicating your stance consistently on any channel where you’re showcasing your employer brand, including on your career site and in your mission statement, will guarantee that candidates can easily walk away with that knowledge, regardless of where they look or what their first exposure to your employer brand is.
#5 Provide LGBTQ Competency Training
Experiences with coworkers and leaders can play a huge role in whether an employee feels that they are being included and viewed as an equal in their work environment. While 80% of non-LGBTQ workers say that they believe LGBTQ people should not have to hide who they are at work, 59% stated that they find it “unprofessional” to talk about sexual orientation and gender identity in the workplace - quite the contradiction! This illustrates why it’s so important to provide employees with proper DE&I training that specifically addresses gender identity and sexual orientation. Educate or remind employees about how to communicate respectively, use proper terminology, and respect boundaries, and make sure they understand the behaviors that aren’t tolerated.
#6 Use Gender Neutral Language In Recruitment Messaging
You may think your job descriptions, employment applications, and other recruitment marketing copy is already pretty gender neutral, but gendered language can be pretty sneaky! For example, you may believe that referencing a potential candidate as “he or she” in a job description covers all your bases, but in reality, using “they” or the second-person “you” would be more inclusive of candidates who are non-binary or gender nonconforming. Using a tool like Textio or Gender Decoder can help you identify problem areas with word choice and any gendered language that may have slipped into your recruitment content.
#7 Be Proactive In Your Search For LGBTQ Talent
If you’re looking to expand your LGBTQ talent pool, be proactive in your search and try going beyond your existing network. You can start locally by searching for community organizations that have job boards or career events, or connect with those who will be joining the professional workforce in the near future by reaching out to colleges and universities in the area with LGBTQ centers and student groups. You can also post your job listings to LGBTQ job boards (i.e. Campus Pride, LGBT Connect, and Pink Jobs LGBT) or promote opportunities in social media groups dedicated to LGBTQ employment.
#8 Ask Candidates For Honest Feedback About Their Experience
If you’re taking steps to make your recruitment process more inclusive, asking candidates for their honest feedback can be one of the best ways to gauge success. When you survey or follow up with your candidates, make sure you’re asking targeted questions about any experience they may have had throughout your process that made them feel marginalized or “othered” based on any characteristic protected by state and federal law, including sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.
#9 Develop A Plan For Supporting Transgender Employees
Coming out as transgender in the workplace can be a frightening and isolating experience, so don’t wait until an employee comes out as transgender to work on a plan for providing support. Start by educating yourself (and others) on appropriate terminology. Formalize a process for how an employee’s transition, name change, and pronouns will be handled and communicated to the rest of the organization, but make sure you’re planning to respect their privacy and talk the plan over with them to ensure it’s within their comfort zone before taking any action. If possible, establish a gender neutral bathroom in the workplace, and if not, clearly communicate that trans employees are supported in using the restroom of their choice. Be prepared to provide guidance and answer questions about medical benefits and nondiscrimination policies.
#10 Conduct LGBTQ-Inclusive Employee Surveys
Just like it’s important to ask potential candidates for their feedback on your inclusiveness, surveying your current employees can help you uncover areas where your DE&I efforts are succeeding and where you have room to improve. In your workplace satisfaction or DE&I-focused surveys, allow employees to remain anonymous and ask them if they have felt supported regardless of their gender identity and sexual orientation. Give them space to share any experiences with bias or discrimination they may have had as part of your team, or ask for suggestions on ways to make your workplace more inclusive for diverse communities.
Making your recruitment and hiring process more inclusive of LGBTQ talent goes beyond just celebrating pride month with a rainbow graphic on your company’s LinkedIn page. Actionable progress starts with improving equity and inclusion within the workplace, which will inevitably have a positive impact on your ability to connect with different communities and attract a higher volume of diverse candidates. To take things a step further, be proactive about communicating your support for the LGBTQ community, contribute to causes and charities that make a positive impact, and make sure you’re continually examining your process to eliminate bias.
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