Pride Month is over, so now what? You’ve talked up how inclusive your company is, maybe participated in a few events and made some social media posts. While all of these things can be important, we need to make sure that diversity and inclusion are embedded in our culture and not just something we do during certain times of the year. This need is underscored by findings by GLAAD, that “more than 40% of lesbian, gay, and bisexual people and almost 90% of transgender people have experienced employment discrimination, harassment or mistreatment.”
So, how can we ensure an inclusive LGBTQ-friendly work environment throughout the entire year? At Stratics Networks, we have taken a number of steps to try and create an LGBTQ-friendly workplace.
1. Set & Enforce Policies
Perhaps the most basic steps, but also one of the most important steps; Stratics Networks has established clear policies and communicated them to all of the staff. All of our team members sign codes of conduct that reflect our values. The most important one of these values being: discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identification will not be tolerated. Additionally, we have also taken the step of creating a gender-neutral washroom in our office.
If you have not already done so, set and enforce policies that will help create an LGBTQ workplace. While most companies already have policies in place, you need to make sure those policies are communicated to your staff and enforced.
If you do not already have policies in place or are looking to update your policies, you can get ideas from, The Transgender Law Centre, they have some excellent ideas. You can also find other policy examples and best practices at Pride at Work.
2. Change How You Hire
Here at Stratics Networks, we have tried to change the way we hire in a couple of important ways. One, by making sure to include our non-discrimination policy and diversity policy at the bottom of all of our ads. Two, advertising on channels that focus on the LGBTQ community. We are a tech company, so we have found a number of LGBTQ groups that focus on the tech industry.
For example, Stratics Networks uses the Slack channel, LGBTQ in Technology to recruit possible candidates. You need to request to join and abide by a recruitment policy, but we have found this to be a good venue to let people know about job opportunities. Groups like Out in Tech and many others, also have job boards that you can post on.
You can also attend LGBTQ recruiting events or meetups organized by the many groups mentioned here. If you are in the Greater Toronto Area, there is a group called Venture Out who holds an annual conference in Toronto connecting LGBTQ community members with the tech community. Out in Tech also does meetups in the 12 cities that they currently have chapters in. For a list of upcoming events, click here.
3. Support LGBTQ Events & Causes Outside of Pride
Stratics Networks has chosen to demonstrate our commitment to LGTBQ issues by starting a scholarship program for LGBTQ students entering STEM studies. The Stratics Networks LGBTQ STEM Scholarship awards up to $10,000 for LGBTQ youth entering into the STEM fields of study. This reflects not only our commitment to LGBTQ inclusivity, but also our company’s focus on tech. As part of your corporate social responsibility program, try and choose LGBTQ causes or events that reflect your company’s culture.
4. Partner with LGBTQ Organizations
Finally, you can look to partner with organizations that can help you with all of the above: recruitment, setting and enforcing workplace policies as well as training staff. There are many LGBTQ organizations that can help, even if you have good intentions and consider yourself an ally, you may not know enough about the LGBTQ community to be able to devise programs and policies by yourself.
Stratics Networks is still exploring partnership opportunities but there are a few that we have run across in our research such as: Pride in Tech, Out in Tech, Lesbians Who Tech and Trans Tech Social. For those who are not in the tech space, there is also this list, which is broken down by industry and includes both broad-based groups and much more focused ones.
Although this particular list is US-focused, you can find plenty of similar organizations in other countries too. And you can also invite individual experts to work with you as advisors, board members, etc.
5. Listen & Be Open to Changing
This is probably the most important and most overlooked aspect of creating and LGBTQ-friendly workplace: listening. Find out what’s important to your staff and what’s working and not working in terms of policies, training, communication, or interaction with coworkers.Your staff is the ones who are experiencing your company’s culture every day. They know best what’s working and what isn’t, so listen to them and change and update your policies as necessary. Like many other things in life, creating an inclusive and LGBTQ-friendly workplace is a constant work in progress. Recognizing that the process is never complete and being open to change and adaptation is the key to creating a better place to work.
These are just some of the steps that Stratics Networks has taken to carry forward the lessons of Pride Month in our workplace culture throughout the entire year. We hope you find a few good ideas and resources to do the same thing too.