LGBTQ+-Friendly Recruitment Best Practices and Tips for 2024

LGBTQ+-Friendly Recruitment Best Practices and Tips for 2024

Key Takeaways

  • Research over the past twenty years has shown that diversity and inclusion are beneficial for businesses.
  • Despite progress in LGBTQ+ inclusion in workplaces, this demographic continues to face employment challenges.
  • LGBTQ+-friendly hiring requires examining processes throughout the entire recruitment cycle.

Over the past twenty years, research has consistently shown that diversity and inclusion benefit businesses. Based on current U.S. Chamber of Commerce data, companies with formal inclusive policies tend to outperform financially compared to those without such policies. As such, inclusivity is becoming increasingly important for attracting and retaining top talent.

Employees in these companies also report higher job satisfaction. LGBTQ+ employees make up 5.9% of the U.S. workforce, but LGBTQ+ representation across various roles in the workforce remains low. Despite progress in LGBTQ+ inclusion in workplaces, the community still faces unique employment challenges. Nearly half of LGBTQ+ employees in the U.S. remain closeted at work, and 75% report negative interactions related to their LGBTQ+ identity in the past year (UCLA Williams Institute).

Achieving full employment equality remains a significant goal in recruitment, and ensuring equality in recruiting LGBTQ+ talent begins with supporting current LGBTQ+ employees and enhancing inclusion efforts within the workplace. 

This article will address DEIB (diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging) recruitment practices specific to the LGBTQ+ community to aid recruitment marketing professionals in tapping this indispensable segment of the talent pool.


Advantages of a Diverse and Inclusive Workplace

Diversity is an invaluable asset for problem-solving and fostering innovation through various viewpoints. Teams composed of members with diverse life experiences bring a wealth of perspectives, enabling them to tackle problems from multiple angles. This diversity of thought challenges standard procedures and norms, encouraging new approaches to problem-solving.


Importance of Inclusive Hiring Practices

If a company’s hiring process is LGBTQ+ inclusive, it will tend to attract candidates who have been made comfortable by its inclusion efforts. Today’s savvy job seekers are vetting companies much more thoroughly concerning corporate culture than in the past. If an organization’s inclusion efforts are merely window dressing, candidates are likely to pick up on this. Obviously, acquiring a reputation such as this can be damaging to the company’s employer brand

Walking the talk regarding diversity initiatives helps to encourage candidates who might otherwise be overlooked. This includes internal leadership support. Company leaders should set an example by addressing any non-inclusive conduct, signaling a zero-tolerance stance against harassment or the creation of a toxic work environment.

Mindful Hiring Incorporating Mental Health Awareness into Recruitment Practices


Strategies for LGBTQ+-Friendly Recruitment

Here are fifteen tips to ensure an open and affirming recruitment process for LGBTQ+ candidates:


1. Clearly Communicate LGBTQ+ Recruitment Efforts

Make a clear non-discrimination statement that includes all gender identities and sexual orientations. Highlight existing LGBTQ+ talent and use social media and the careers page to demonstrate the company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. Also, show public support for the LGBTQ+ community through social media during Pride Month and participation in Pride events.

Further, an overall culture elevating LGBTQ+ teammates should be maintained year-round. In addition to “Show Your Pride'' initiatives during Pride Month, companies should provide LGBTQ employees with a platform to share their employee experience with the organization.

For example, the mega-retailer Target has long supported the LGBTQ+ community, creating experiences that foster a sense of belonging for their team members and guests. Its Pride+ Business Council employee resource group regularly sponsors events for team members to connect and get involved with one another. 


2. Support LGBTQ+ Charities and Causes

Beyond celebrating Pride Month, organizations must actively support LGBTQ+ causes, charities, and community centers. Doing so can significantly enhance their brand recognition among LGBTQ+ talent. This proactive support also boosts employee job satisfaction and retention, as employees feel proud to work for a company that aligns with their values and actively contributes to important social causes.


3. Ensure Comprehensive and Transparent Workplace Policies

Organizations should regularly review and update their discrimination policies to explicitly include sexual orientation and gender identity. Ensuring equal benefits for all employees is essential, and these protections must be clearly communicated across the company. Transparent policies foster an inclusive workplace environment where all employees feel valued and protected, leading to higher morale and productivity.

Tip: Companies should ensure that these protections are clearly understood by employees and leadership and that any reports of discrimination are taken seriously.


4. Include Inclusivity in the Mission Statement and Career Site

It is essential for organizations to clearly convey their support for the LGBTQ+ community and commitment to diversity in their mission statement and career site. By making this information readily accessible across all channels where they showcase their employer brand, companies can attract diverse talent and demonstrate their dedication to fostering an inclusive workplace.


5. Provide LGBTQ+ Competency Training

To minimize unconscious bias, organizations should provide training for recruiters and hiring managers on proper terminology and gender-neutral language. Educating employees on respectful communication and behaviors that are not tolerated helps create a more inclusive workplace. This training ensures that all employees understand the importance of inclusivity and how to support their LGBTQ+ colleagues effectively.



6. Use Gender-Neutral Language in Recruitment Messaging

Ensuring that job descriptions, applications, and other recruitment materials use gender-neutral language is essential for attracting a diverse talent pool. Tools like Textio or Gender Decoder can assist in identifying and correcting gendered language. This practice helps create an inclusive recruitment process that appeals to candidates of all gender identities.


7. Proactively Search for LGBTQ+ Talent

To expand their LGBTQ+ talent pool, organizations should connect with local community organizations, colleges, and universities. Posting job listings on LGBTQ+ job boards and promoting opportunities in LGBTQ+ social media groups can help attract diverse candidates. This proactive approach demonstrates a company's commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Moreover, advertising job openings on LGBTQ+ job boards and interacting with social media communities focused on LGBTQ+ employment can significantly enhance the exposure of these positions. Making the company's diversity statement prominently available on the website demonstrates transparency and inclusiveness, so employees or job seekers do not have to take extra steps to find this information.



8. Ask Candidates for Honest Feedback

Surveying candidates about their recruitment experience can provide valuable insights into areas for improvement in inclusiveness. By asking for honest feedback, organizations can identify any gaps or biases in their recruitment process and take steps to create a more inclusive environment for future candidates.

Note: This can be expanded into creating LGBTQ+ brand ambassadors for the organization. As recruitment marketers know, it’s not enough for companies to present themselves in the best possible way – they need to cultivate authentic and credible advocates to convey their message.


9. Develop a Policy for Supporting Transgender Employees

Creating a supportive environment for transgender employees involves educating the workforce on appropriate terminology and formalizing processes for transitions. Establishing gender-neutral bathrooms and providing guidance on benefits and nondiscrimination policies are important steps in this plan. 

By prioritizing trans inclusion, organizations send a strong message to job seekers and the broader community. They show their dedication to creating an inclusive culture where every employee is respected, valued, and given equal opportunities for success. Additionally, a workplace that embraces trans individuals enhances the organization's employer brand.


10. Conduct LGBTQ+-Inclusive Employee Surveys

Surveying current employees about their experiences with DEI efforts can uncover both successes and areas for improvement. These surveys should include LGBTQ+ perspectives to ensure that the company’s DEI initiatives effectively support all employees. The feedback obtained can guide future policies and programs.

Efforts such as these ensure that LGBTQ+ employees feel heard and that their experience matters.


11. Prevent Unconscious Bias Through Collaborative Hiring

Using multiple points of contact such as panel interviews in the hiring process can help reduce the impact of any one person’s unconscious bias. By explicitly endorsing LGBTQ+ inclusion, organizations can reassure candidates that they are committed to diversity. This collaborative approach in hiring fosters a more equitable selection process and strengthens the overall inclusivity of the organization.


12. Communicate Benefits for Same-Sex Partners and Families

It is imperative for companies to clearly state upfront if they offer benefits to same-sex partners and support for queer parents. This concrete support not only attracts and engages LGBTQ+ candidates but also demonstrates the company’s commitment to equality and inclusivity. Clearly communicated benefits help build trust and loyalty among current and prospective employees.



13. Establish a Vocabulary in the Workplace 

To promote inclusivity, it is essential to evaluate the range of prefixes available in forms and surveys used in HR and other data systems, such as the ATS, by incorporating options beyond the conventional Mr/Mrs/Ms, including Mx. If electronic systems cannot support this, assess whether collecting this information is necessary at all, and apply the same consideration to paper-based documents. Additionally, using gender-neutral language like "they" instead of "he/she" in communications helps employees feel free to express their identities without needing to categorize themselves explicitly.

Acknowledging that people use various terms to describe their identities, it is vital to honor the preferences of trans employees and candidates by seeking their input on how they wish to be addressed. Encourage employees and candidates to disclose their preferred pronouns, names, and titles. Establish a central resource that employees can easily access—kickstart discussions about terminology by providing a glossary of relevant terms.


14. Have Analytics in Place to Track Progress

Collecting and examining data is essential for implementing successful diversity and inclusion strategies. This process is vital for companies to advance, recognize shortcomings, and enhance their initiatives. Consistent reporting enables the dissemination of outcomes across the company, encouraging feedback, transparency, and trust. 

Comprehensive reports also offer a competitive edge, establishing the company as a leader in the field and attracting clients, stakeholders, and investors.


15. Continue to Review and Revise Policies

To establish a workplace that is inclusive and supportive of LGBTQ+ employees, organizations need to develop a thorough policy that embraces all individuals and acknowledges a variety of experiences. This effort should be continuous and evolving. Key actions include embedding non-discrimination measures in policies, fostering open dialogue, and proactively updating policies to rectify previous issues. Companies must prepare to engage in challenging discussions, which may involve reflecting on and admitting past mistakes and their detrimental effects.

Making the recruitment and hiring process more inclusive of LGBTQ+ talent requires more than just celebrating Pride Month. It involves improving equity and inclusion within the workplace, proactively communicating support for the LGBTQ+ community, contributing to relevant causes, and continually examining processes to eliminate bias. These actions will positively impact the ability to connect with diverse communities and attract a broader range of candidates.

Reach out to us if your organization is interested in auditing and/or improving its inclusivity efforts to foster recruitment success!

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