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How to Work Together To Fight Homophobia in the Workplace: IDAHOBIT Day 2021

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Read Time: 11 min

Is your business paying enough attention to gender diversity and gender identity discrimination in the workplace? Find out how to do this and why IDAHOBIT day is important.

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Encouraging a diverse workplace is a good business practice. (Image source: Envato Elements)

Learn about IDAHOBIT Day: what it is, why it's important, and why gender identity discrimination is a topic your business should be well versed on.  We'll also include some IDAHOBIT resources and some research. Plus, we'll share some ideas for embracing and supporting IDAHOBIT and gender diversity in your workplace.


IDAHOBIT stands for "International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Interphobia and Transphobia". It's officially recognized on May 17th. This day is significant. It's the day that the World Health Organization (WHO) removed homosexuality from their list of International Classification of Diseases, back in 1990.

IDAHOBIT day draws necessary attention to the issues of prejudice, discrimination, and even hatred against gender and sexual diversity. 

Gender identity discrimination is still an important issue. (Image source: Envato Elements)

Gender Diversity in the Workplace & Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Laws

So, what is gender identity discrimination? The American Psychological Association describes discrimination as unfair, biased, or prejudiced treatment based on specific characteristics. Gender identity discrimination largely puts that focus on a person's identity. Similarly, a person can experience discrimination based on their sexuality. 

Fighting gender identity discrimination starts with understanding what it is. (Image source: Envato Elements)

What, then, is sexual diversity? The Australian Department of Health describes sexual diversity as a broad range of experiences, all of them normal and a part of a person's identity. Identity and orientation can differ, and sexuality can be a complex and evolving part of a person's life. 

Gender identity discrimination is a genuine concern that should matter to us all. So is discrimination against orientation and identity. While there are some gender identity anti-discrimination laws in place, there are still many challenges to overcome in many different parts of the world. Individuals and communities still face prejudice, discrimination, and even violence.

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There are still many challenges to overcome in the fight against discrimination. (Image source: Envato Elements)

This is one of many reasons why the recognition of IDAHOBIT is important. While worldwide sentiment on gender equality is on the rise, it's not without its warranted pessimism, because we, as a planet, have a long way to go.

In the United States, a 2020 Supreme Court ruling determined that LBGTQI+ individuals are protected under civil rights anti-discrimination law. Before this ruling, it was legal in over half of the country to fire someone who is transgender. Looking at our definition from earlier in this article, that's what discrimination looks like: unfair, biased, or prejudiced actions based on specific characteristics. 

What Does Research Suggest About Gender Diversity & Team Productivity?

So, what does research suggest about gender diversity and team productivity? Why should these topics be an essential for your business? 

Diversity has repeatedly proven to be an asset in the workplace according to a Gallup poll. Gender is no exception. A diverse team means even more diverse perspectives. That can certainly lend itself to innovation, progress, and success. 

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More diverse teams tend to be more productive. (Image source: Envato Elements)

There's a suggested relationship between the success of diverse teams and homophobia statistics. For example, in work environments where bias is normalized, the success is negatively impacted according to a recent study cited in the Harvard Business Review. This makes sense: a diverse team can flourish when they're welcomed and safe. 

For diverse teams to work and flourish, diversity itself needs to be not just welcomed but valued and celebrated. Studies suggest that diverse workplaces generate higher income, can be more appealing to candidates, and even have higher employee retention rates.

How COVID Has Impacted the LGBTQI Community

COVID-19 has had a huge impact on the entire world and its populations. Social distancing, health care, employment, and many other concerns have been very challenging for us all. 

Besides these challenges, research suggests that social isolation is particularly challenging for LGBTQI youth according to a study discussed in the Psychiatric Times. COVID-19 has also had a disproportionate impact on LGBTQI and other marginalized communities. Quarantine and social distancing also means community centers and other resources may be less available to those who need it. 

Working Together: Supporting Gender Diversity in the Workplace

So, you might be wondering: how can I support diversity in the workplace? What can I do to make my workplace more inclusive, safe, and welcoming to a diverse team?

Your Efforts can make a difference in fighting against discrimination. (Image source: Envato Elements)

While there are many appropriate answers to this question, here are a few ideas to consider for your organization:

1. Make Sure Compensation & Benefits Are Fair 

For example, are your available health insurance benefits inclusive? Do they help and address the needs of a diverse community?

Look at things like compensation, time off, leave of absences, and other benefits. Do they reflect a diverse workplace? If they don't, or you aren't sure: ask your employees. Be open to voices and feedback other than your own.

2. Listen to All Employee (& Customer) Voices

Like we just discussed, it's important to listen to all voices. It's important to listen to applicable voices when something concerns a specific community. Empathy can be a wonderful thing. But don't pretend to understand a topic and its nuances without taking the time to listen.

It's worth noting too that listening is an active skill. One voice isn't all voices. It's important to keep open ears. Listen to your employees and listen to your customers so you can take informed action.

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Listen to your employees. (Image source: Envato Elements)

3. Start a Company Project That Supports Gender & Sexual Diversity

Action, like we just noted, is important. Listening is great. Your actions can make a much more tangible difference. Have you considered workplace initiatives to support gender and sexual diversity? These projects could be larger or small. For example, your workplace could openly recognize and voice its support of IDAHOBIT. This is a simple yet effective way to get started.

4. Be Active as a Company on Social Media

Businesses and organizations often have a more predominant voice than individuals. You can use your platform to advocate for diversity, equality, and other important issues that your company takes a stance on. 

Keep in mind that sometimes silence is a statement in and of itself. Likewise, you can overdo it too. Support without talking over the voices most affected. Instead, use your platform to raise awareness and lift up those who most need your support.

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Social media is one way a business can speak out against discrimination. (Image source: Envato Elements)

5. Run an Event Supporting Gender Diversity

This can be done in person, elsewhere, or even remotely, online. You could host an informative event, like something explaining IDAHOBIT to your team. Sensitivity and diversity are important topics to share and discuss, so create an open dialog in your work environment.

There are plenty more ideas you could try on this front too. You could consider a fundraiser, a charity auction, or participation at a larger event. 

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Hosting an event is one way to support gender diversity. (Image source: Envato Elements)

6. Support Community Groups That Are Committed to Diversity

Are you aware of what community groups exist in your area? It could be a great idea to reach out and support them. Donations, services, and other charitable acts can go a long way.

If you don't necessarily have community groups, advocacy programs, or activist groups in your local area, check the Internet. There are often national programs you can support. Or look for international organizations that you can support.

There are some resources and links at the end of this article, if you need some extra help finding some great places to start.

7. Take Time to Evaluate Your Work Environment

Regularly take some time to observe and evaluate your work environment and work culture. Just because you think things are okay, doesn't necessarily mean they are or that there isn't room for improvement in there, somewhere.

For example, if you notice inappropriate comments or behavior, make sure to note it and take action. If you notice that a process or policy isn't welcoming (or worse), take note and take action. Large problems are often easier to notice. But small problems can still add up and have an impact on your employees.

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Be observant and notice problems. (Image source: Envato Elements)

8. Make It Simple, Confidential, & Safe for Employees to Speak Out

If there's a problem or concern at work, is it easy for your employees to let someone know? Do they feel safe to do so, with their information protected? Many may want to keep experiences like this confidential too.

While you might think you're accessible and that anyone could report a problem, it might not actually feel that way for the party in question. Create an environment where confidentiality is respected and where employees feel that they can safely speak out when and if they need to. Encourage your team to speak up, whether the concern is about their own experiences or something else they witnessed. 

9. Be Aware of Your Company's Actions & Partnerships

While your intentions might be good, that doesn't mean all your business actions are automatically without fault. Be aware of what activities your business engages in. What other businesses do you engage with or buy from? What do they do, and what do they stand for? You may end up tied to this other business, by association.

Plus, your actions have power. You can support businesses and business owners that are working towards positive initiatives, as well as businesses owned by members of marginalized communities.

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Examine your company's actions and partnerships. (Image source: Envato Elements)

10. Make Company Policies on Discrimination Clear & Follow Them Without Exception

In order for everyone to follow policies, they need to be clear, and they need to be visible. Make sure from the beginning that all parties are clear that discrimination won't be tolerated in the workplace. Feel free to expand on what discrimination means. You can explain with examples, as well as why this behavior is unacceptable. 

You may also want to clearly state the consequences for being in violation of these policies. This is important: if these policies are broken, follow up and take appropriate action.

If others are expected to follow all aspects of your company policies, you and all leaders within your business, should follow them as well. Make it known that this is an equal playing field, and everyone is expected to follow these standards.

11. What If I'm Not the Boss or a Leader in My Organization? What Can I Do?

Just because you're not the owner of the business, a manager, or another type of leader in your workplace doesn't mean your voice and your actions don't have an impact. Be mindful of your own behavior. Do you actively embrace a diverse workplace? Are your actions inclusive, sensitive, and appropriate?

If you notice something at your workplace that seems discriminatory or inappropriate, speak up. The person being discriminated against is at a disadvantage. That can feel incredibly overwhelming, disempowering, and even frightening for them. You can stand up and make these red flags known.

If you're the person experiencing discrimination, you deserve to be heard and respected. Speak to a party you trust, whether they're in your workplace or a trusted, outside outlet. Speaking out is admirable. But also be mindful of your safety and wellbeing, first and foremost. 

12. Consider Ways to Make Resources More Available

Make yourself aware of community resources in your area. Then, you can make them known in your workplace in an appropriate way. This can be as simple as including this content in handbooks and other internal communications. Keep it casual, confidential, and easily accessible, so someone can take the action they need in privacy.

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There are resources available to help you and your employees. (Image source: Envato Elements)

Learn More About Fighting LGBTQI Discrimination (IDAHOBIT Resources)

Want to learn more about diversity, IDAHOBIT, and ways you can support diversity in the workplace? Check out these sources for more information:

Thank you for taking the time to read these thoughts on IDAHOBIT and what we can do to fight discrimination in the workplace. May 17th is an important day, with an important history. There will be many international, virtual events for IDAHOBIT in 2021. With the pandemic, many events have a need to adapt for social distancing. Still, there are many ways to recognize this day at a distance.

You can also read more about IDAHOBIT, diversity, and inclusion here on Envato Tuts+. 

Take a Stand Against Gender Discrimination Today

Now that you've learned about what IDAHOBIT Day stands for and about the importance of standing against gender discrimination, it's time to use what you've learned. Use the information in this article to improve gender diversity in your business. 

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