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Spirit Day 2020: Making Your Company More LGBTQ Inclusive

Read Time: 9 mins

Today is Spirit Day 2020, a day set aside each year to speak out against LGBTQ bullying and harassment of youth. LGBTQ youth disproportionately face bullying and harassment because of their identities. Spirit Day is a day to stand united against bullying. 

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Learn more about Spirit Day 2020 on the GLAAD website. 

Pledging to “go purple" on Spirit Day is a way for everyone to visibly show unity towards the LGBTQ in not only the community but also in the workplace. LGBTQ youth have and continue to fight an uphill battle for equality. 

In this article, we're going to show you just how difficult the workplace can be for the LGBTQ community. We'll also discuss how managers can overcome LGBTQ discrimination in the workplace. Plus, we'll provide helpful information and advice for LGBTQ employees so that you understand the laws that protect you. That way you'll have a course of action for navigating your working environment.

LGBTQ Discrimination in the Workplace

Despite the latest June 2020 Supreme Court ruling that the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects gay and transgender workers from workplace discrimination, millions of LGBTQ workers still fear losing their job because of who they are or who they love. 

Currently, in the United States, there are 5.4 million LGBTQ workers in the United States according to The National LGBTQ Workers Center. According to a 2017 article from Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, 25% have reported that they've been discriminated against in the workplace. How hiring and firing are handled for the LGBTQ community is also problematic. 27% of workers reported being fired, not hired, or denied promotions because of their sexual orientation. 

All these well-known concerns in the workplace have made LGBTQ employees afraid of showing their colleagues and superiors who they truly are. According to a recent MarketWatch article, 50% of LGBTQ workers remain closeted at work so they don't get discriminated against.

This creates many obstacles for these workers on a day-to-day basis making it necessary for even more reform to take place. 

How Managers Can Overcome LGBTQ Discrimination in the Workplace 

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Management attitudes are important and set the tone for the workplace. (Image source: Envato Elements)

Creating a more inclusive working environment for LGBTQ workers has to start with the manager. The manager sets the tone for how the business operates. By implementing the Spirit Day ideas for work laid out below you'll help ensure that your LGBTQ employees are being treated fairly. It'll help transform your company's culture into one that supports equality.

1. Adopt Hiring & Promotion Practices That Encourage Diversity

By adopting hiring and promotion practices that aren't discriminatory, you ensure that you're only hiring the best employees for the job. Making sure that you hire employees who have the skills necessary for the job and are most deserving of a promotion based on their performance. This should be verbalized and written in your companies hiring and promotion guidelines.

For more information on how to build a culture of diversity and inclusion in the workplace, check out the article below:

2. Offer LGBTQ-Friendly Benefits

LGBT-friendly benefits are benefits that are extended to the LGBTQ community. This includes medical insurance and having benefits for same-sex partners and people who are transgender. This is a big step in achieving a more equal workplace.

Other types of benefits could include compensation for discrepancies in taxes for your LGBTQ employees. If your LGBTQ employees don't receive the same tax breaks as your other employees, offering compensation for the difference is a great way to make your company more inclusive. 

Examine any type of insurance, monetary compensation, or other benefits that your company offers. Make sure that you treat each person fairly.

3. Have Clear Policies Condemning Harassment

While including policies for condemning harassment in the workplace are common, policies that specify that the company condemns harassment towards LGBTQ employees aren't as common. 

Not having this policy may make your workplace an uncomfortable place for its LGBTQ employees. That can have a negative impact on your business. 

Specifically state in your company policies that harassment of any type towards LGBTQ employees won't be tolerated. Having this policy set in place will make your LGBTQ employees feel much safer in the workplace. This will ultimately lead to a healthier working environment.

For more Spirit Day ideas on combating bullying in the workplace, feel free to read the article below:

4. Create an Affinity Group or Employee Resource Group for LGBTQ Employees

An affinity group or employee resource group allows employees of similar identities to come together and bring awareness, push for change, and organize events. 

Creating a group for your LGBTQ employees gives your company the opportunity to show support for the community and give them a voice. With a resource group, your employees will have a place to share common experiences. They'll also have a platform to create changes in company policies and improve the workplace for LGBTQ employees. 

Since 50% of LGBTQ employees don't open up about their sexual orientation, they may not even know which coworkers share similar experiences with them. Giving a safe space for your workers to communicate and collaborate will make your workplace much more inclusive. It also sets a precedent of equality that potential employees will take notice of. 

To find out more information on creating affinity groups, don't miss out on this article:

5. Offer a Scholarship to LGBTQ Youth to Show Your Support

Organizations such as PFLAG, League Foundation, and Gamma Mu Foundation all award many scholarships to LGBTQ youth every year to help outstanding students further their education.

Starting an LGBTQ scholarship program can be one of the best ways to encourage children to be the best version of themselves and be proud of who they are.

An LGBTQ scholarship where students can qualify by having a proven track record of leadership, community involvement, and a proven strong academic achievement supports the LGBTQ community. A scholarship for those who need financing for their education creates more opportunities for LGBTQ youth. It also gives them a goal to aim for.

6. Make Company Donations to LGBTQ Causes

Making a company donation to LGBTQ causes is another impactful way for you to show support for the community. These donations can help all types of LGBTQ people through education, medical support, and more inclusive policies in the workplace.

Here's a list of a few well know LGBTQ nonprofit organizations that you can donate to:

Also, donations to LGBTQ nonprofit organizations are tax-deductible for your business.

What to Know as an LGBTQ Employee (+ 5 Helpful Resources)

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Depending on the country you live in, you may be protected by different laws and policies. (Image source: Envato Elements)

If you're an LGBTQ employee, you should know how you're protected by different laws and policies. There are also ways that you can support the LGBTQ community and help drive change in the workplace. 

In this next section, we'll cover these laws and policies. You'll learn how you can help make the working environment a better place for LGBTQ employees:

1. In the US, You're Protected by the 1964 Civil Rights Act

On June of 2020, the United States Supreme Court extended the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include LGBTQ employees. The act bans employment discrimination for LGBTQ people. Since fewer than half of US states had laws against discrimination for employment, this is a huge win for the community. So, know that you're protected by the US Supreme Court when it comes to being discriminated against for employment. 

2. Protections in Australia & the UK

The LGBTQ community also has protections in Australia and the UK.

In Australia, the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act 1986 empowers the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission to investigate complaints of discrimination in employment based on sexual orientation.

In the UK, the 2000 EC Directive prohibited discrimination in employment on the grounds of sexual orientation.

3. Know Your Company’s Harassment Policy & Speak Out If Need Be

As mentioned, harassment in the workplace is still very common for LGBTQ people. Before you take any new job, make sure that you're aware of the company's harassment policy and ask questions if anything is unclear. 

In the event that you've been harassed in the workplace, the worst thing you can do is keep quiet about the incident. Contacting managers about the incident should be your first priority if this ever does happen. Not speaking out will only make the situation worse as there will be no repercussions for the other party and such incidents may continue to occur.

4. Join an Affinity Group or Employee Resource Group

These groups are a great place to meet other people in your company that are also LGBT. These groups will give you the opportunity to share similar experiences and make a push for change within the workplace. 

Employers who offer these groups within the company and work with these groups to shape company policy to be more inclusive tend to have a more equal working environment than most. Ask your employer if affinity or employee resource groups are available when looking for a job with an inclusive workplace.

5. Take Part in Community Activities

If your company or community is hosting any LGBTQ events, then take advantage of the opportunity. Participating in these events helps show your support for the community and will encourage others to join as well. 

Also being proactive in your workplace and community and pushing for more events to support equality for the LGBTQ is important. Don't just be a follower. Be a leader!

Start Working to Make Your Company More Inclusive 

The workplace has always been a difficult place for the LGBTQ community. While discrimination has been reduced for the community in recent years, it still persists and continues to be of everyday workplace life around the world. 

An all-inclusive and equal work environment for all your employees will have a positive impact on your business. This will create a healthier working environment. It'll also make your LGBTQ employees more productive as they'll feel safer when going to work and be able to express who they are.

Many of the Spirit Day ideas for work outlined in this article are relatively inexpensive and easy to put in place. Forming groups, changing hiring and firing policies, and supporting events such as Spirit Day can be implemented regardless of your business's size.

The time to start changing your business's culture is now! 

Support Spirit Day 2020. Start by adopting one or more items out of our list to start making your workplace a more inclusive environment. 

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