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How to Create an Inclusive Environment for LGBTQIA+ Employees and Candidates

As Pride Month kicks off, people who are LGBTQIA+ and their allies have begun the month-long celebration of the community. However, for some members of the community, it may not feel comfortable being out and about in public proudly waving their rainbow flags. Why? Because according to the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, 46% of LGBTQIA+ workers are closeted at their job for various reasons, including fear of being stereotyped (38%), making colleagues feel uncomfortable (36%), and losing relationships with coworkers (31%). And when they have suffered mistreatment for being LGBTQIA+, 13% of workers report that they do not make a complaint because they fear losing their job.

Not being able to be open at work has consequences for employees and companies alike. While workers may lose out on the opportunity to be themselves in the workplace, organizations risk losing good talent because one in 10 LGBTQIA+ workers are willing to leave a job because the environment is not welcoming. As a result, you want your organization to distinguish itself as a place where LGBTQIA+ talent can come and feel comfortable being themselves. The following are seven strategies for creating an inclusive environment for LGBTQIA+ employees and job candidates. 

1. Create LGBTQIA+-Friendly Policies and Procedures

Even if your organization does not have an LGBTQIA+ employee yet, policies and procedures about what is and is not acceptable when it comes to the treatment of the community are important. Make it clear to everyone in your company what behaviors are expected and what the consequences are for things like discrimination and harassment. Also, be sure that you’re not just addressing these issues on paper and you actually follow through with consequences when someone steps over the established boundaries.

2. Partner With LGBTQIA+ Organizations 

Becoming an inclusive workplace for LGBTQIA+ talent begins with the hiring process. By partnering with organizations that support the needs of the community, you can connect with great talent as you signal that you’re a company that values diversity and inclusion.      

3. Celebrate Pronouns

Pronouns should be celebrated by everyone in your organization. This can be as simple as encouraging all employees to add their pronouns to their email signatures. Also, when recruiters make their first contact with candidates, they can announce their own pronouns and ask talent to share theirs, which normalizes the celebration of pronouns with all potential employees before they’re hired.

4. Adopt Inclusive Language

Just as pronouns should be celebrated in the workplace, inclusive language should be a part of your standard operating procedures to create an LGBTQIA+ inclusive environment. For example, when leaders send companywide emails that use greetings like “Ladies and Gentlemen,” they are excluding nonbinary and gender-fluid employees. Instead, your company should adopt inclusive alternatives, like “XYZ Widget Employees” when sending communications to address everyone and avoid making some people feel alienated.  

5. Create an LGBTQIA+ Employee Resource Group 

Employee resource groups, or ERGs, allow workers of specific underrepresented demographics to connect with each other and discuss any concerns they have about their work environment. By creating an LGBTQIA+ ERG, and having a member of the leadership team act as a liaison for the group, it allows workers to discuss issues in a safe environment, while having a member of management available to bring these concerns to the rest of the leaders in the organization. 

6. Offer Trans-Inclusive Healthcare

Trans employees have very specific health needs that they often have to pay for out of pocket. Transition-related healthcare coverage allows employees to receive all of the same benefits for a gender dysphoria diagnosis that they would for any other type of medical diagnosis—such as coverage for appointments with a doctor, laboratory testing, medication, surgical procedures, and mental health counseling. Helping to defray the cost of this care for employees goes a long way toward making them feel valued in your organization, and it sends a strong message to the community that you are an inclusive workplace.

7. Make Your Support Public

To demonstrate your dedication to the LGBTQIA+ community, you should be loud and proud about what you’ve done as an organization to be an ally. Whether it is on your social media platforms or your recruiting website, regularly discuss why you’re an LGBTQIA+-friendly organization and make it clear that D&I is a priority.

When creating a truly inclusive environment for diverse groups of workers, it’s important to cater to their specific needs. By using these tips, you can make your workplace more welcoming for LGBTQIA+ employees, as well as signal to allies that you share the same values they do.

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