As you may know, in June every year the LGBT+ community comes together across the world to celebrate Pride Month. Why June? It was chosen to remember the Stonewall Riots that broke out in Greenwich Village, New York City, on 28 June 1969 after police raided one of the city’s most popular gay clubs, prompting a backlash and protests.
Personnel Today looks at three steps to becoming LGBTQ+ inclusive all year round – the ‘Q’ stands for those people questioning their sexuality. They say that while many companies will be changing their logos to incorporate the rainbow flag as a symbol of solidarity, support for this underrepresented group should go further, and should be all year round, not just for the month of June.
The three steps they recommend are, first, assume nothing and demonstrate support by, for example, using inclusive language and normalizing the use of gender pronouns in email signatures and correspondence with clients and customers. Secondly, they suggest having a clear mission statement and updating your policies. So, a mission statement which demonstrates support with measurable outcomes that hold the company accountable, and policies which are inclusive of LGBTQ+ employees and which set out the consequences of not adhering to them. Third, they suggest being proactive to include the LGBTQ+ community in wellbeing and coaching programmes.
As you will have noticed, trans rights have been in the news since last week’s EAT ruling that gender-critical views are a protected belief under the Equality Act. That case has generated a lot of publicity with opinion divided on the scope of that law and the protection it offers. However, the bigger picture, aside from the legal protections, and an issue on which most people are agreed, is that trans-inclusivity in the workplace is a good thing both for the individuals concerned and their employers, so in this month of June we thought we would return to this issue. We did look at this back in March, on International Transgender Day of Visibility - that was 31 March - and we heard from Rob Childe who has been working closely with a number of clients to help improve trans-inclusivity. I asked what practical steps employers can take to improve inclusivity:
Rob Childe: “Well here are a number of things that I'd recommend employers think about if they are looking to become more trans-inclusive and to go on that journey to becoming more inclusive. The first, I think, is to have a gender identity policy in place. Now this is a really useful tool for managers, employees, and HR to have access to, at the point that an individual comes forward and says that they're transitioning or that they are non-binary or gender fluid etcetera. Now, this policy doesn't need to be long or complicated because the reality is that we know the journey that trans and non-binary individuals go on is unique and is going to vary case by case. So the policy isn't comprehensively going to cover every eventuality but it's more a framework to enable the discussions to take place internally and it's also a really good signal to the rest of the workforce that the organisation takes trans inclusivity really seriously. The other step that I'd encourage employers to take is to have some diversity and inclusion training that specifically focuses on gender identity. So this is something that we offer either through our Employment Law Plus team or we also team up with an organisation called Global Butterflies who are an exclusively trans staffed training agency focusing on HR issues because time and time again, the case law tells us, that it's not enough simply to have a policy sitting on a shelf gathering dust. Employers need to make sure that they embed their policies and their commitment to inclusivity through directly training their staff and managers and HR etcetera. I think in terms of other things to think about, well, pronouns are a big one. So what can the organisation do to encourage the use of pronouns within the workforce, what steps can be taken to remove non inclusive language. So the classics would be to remove letters that go out saying 'Dear Sir' or Dear Madam' as they are seen not to be inclusive for obvious reasons. Another step that I would recommend employers look to take is to monitor gender identity when doing annual diversity staff surveys. This can be a really useful tool because it will show the organisation how many trans and non-binary employees there are, and that can act as a bit of a catalyst, or a motivator, to make a business case for employers to take steps to become more trans inclusive to support the wider workforce.”
Rob works closely with diversity and inclusion consultancy Brook Graham. If you are interested in knowing more about the work they do, the clients they've worked with and some of the successful strategies they have implemented we suggest you visit their website. We have put a link to that in the transcript of this programme.
Link to website of diversity and inclusion consultancy Brook Graham