You’ll easily spot an LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered or questioning) ally in the offices of management company, Accenture. They’re the ones with the highly-prized rainbow lanyards. These simple ID card holders are an outward signal of that person’s inclusive values. And the value the company puts on its diversity credentials (source).
The company also supports employees to declare their status as an ally and supporter of the LGBTQ community in their email signatures. It’s a simple change that had a huge impact. Indian colleagues started to follow suit, despite the criminalisation of same-sex relationships in their country, and a team member soon came out to his team for the first time. The next week he attended Bangalore Pride. There he met colleagues with their families - all wearing supportive t-shirts. The framework he needed was there – it just needed focus and engagement.
Diversity and inclusion in the US
This shows it is small changes, as much as large-scale policy, that can make a difference. In the US, law, banking and retail employers score highest on the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Corporate Equality Index (source).
The annual survey found gender identity formed part of non-discrimination policies at 83% of Fortune 500 companies. That figure was just up from just 3% in 2002. The research also showed 459 companies adopted guidelines for transgender workers in transition.
“At a time when the rights of LGBTQ people are under attack by the Trump-Pence Administration and state legislatures across the country, hundreds of top American companies are driving progress toward equality in the workplace,” said HRC President Chad Griffin.
Inclusive employment, UK policy
The UK paints a slightly different picture. The legislation is certainly more supportive, but the impact is not always clear. Discrimination in the workplace is still widely reported (source). Working with a top firm, the rights group Stonewall have some concrete suggestions for achieving an LGBTQ-inclusive workplace.
- Promoting a functioning LGBTQ-focused internal network with clear aims, objectives, responsibilities and internal support that engages the majority. This is important as it allows a wider group of employees to contribute. Without it, engagement will be ad hoc and unfocussed.
- Creating an Allies programme that provides support and reassurance for LGBT staff across the organisation.
- Supporting diverse role models from teams at every level to have visibility in what you do and how you work. Creative newsletters are a good way to present these persons in a fun manner – reinforcing their approachability.
- Making policies LGBT inclusive with updated language and terms clearly shows management support for diversity and inclusion. This can be as simple as tweaking phrasing to partner/spouse, rather than just father.
- Reflecting the company’s respect for the individual across all existing policies. That includes communications, training and line management discussions.
These are simple changes at management level, but they can absolutely change people’s lives. We believe in the power of people in driving that necessary change. And the right to bring your whole self to work. Learn more about how working with VERCIDA can promote diversity, and success, for your company here.