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A study by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) found that a third of LGBT people avoid careers in science, technology and engineering due to worries of discrimination and bullying.

Gender reassignment and sexual orientation are both protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010. It's important to take the latest considerations and practices in this area into account. Below are recommendations and ideas from companies working to improve LGBTQ+ inclusion.

Employer recommendations

➖Implement and communicate relevant policies and systems to support LGBTQ+ employees (engaging with your LGBTQ+ employees to create them).

Some of these will include:

  • Domestic-partner benefits;
  • A non-discrimination policy* that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity;
  • A family-leave policy that treats all parents equally;
  • Health insurance that covers hormone therapy and gender-confirmation surgery for employees seeking to transition;
  • Medical leave for colleagues who are transitioning, separate from holiday or sick leave;
  • Support and education for managers on the impact of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), and the effects it may have on mental health for folks who are transitioning.
  • HR systems and documents that are inclusive of all genders and personal pronouns;
  • All-gender or gender-neutral bathrooms/toilets.
  • Travelling for work safety adjustments; there are places in the world that are less safe for trans folks. Ensure you have robust processes in place to ensure trans employees are able to fulfil their role responsibilities without risk to their safely and without disadvantage to their career.
  • Be thoughtful with planning social activities; e.g. consider if events might require the need to change clothing and how this can be managed inclusively and sensitively.

All employees need to understand the expectations of equal treatment in the workplace and understand that there is accountability and recourse should these policies be violated.

*Non-discrimination policies assure job applicants and employees that they will be treated equally and that their identity as an LGBTQ+ person will not impact their role. While some countries do not recognise protections for LGBTQ+ people, it is still important to have a company policy to reflect a commitment to non-discrimination, supporting the recruitment and retention of talent as well as define expectations for employees, suppliers and contractors.

Support the launch and development of voluntary employee-led groups (or ERGs) to give LGBTQ+ employees a seat at the table, and offer a community of support and a safe space for LGBTQ+ colleagues (open to Allies).

Set the LGBTQ+ ERG (and subsequent chapters in different geographical locations) up for success by providing official company recognition as a formal workplace organisation; a direct line to company leadership or an Executive Sponsor; a budget to carry out activities and programmes; governance guidance and leverage best practice learned from other ERGs. Additionally, to optimize their time and maximize their effectiveness, equip ERG leaders with prioritisation guidelines and resource support and reward ERG leaders with tailored recognition, as opposed to generic acknowledgment, to reflect ERG leaders’ preferences and acknowledge ERG success.

💡 Learn about 'Eight Things You Can Start to Do on International Day Against Biphobia, Transphobia and Homophobia' by Fearless Futures.

➖People managers play a crucial role in creating a positive environment that allows everyone to be themselves. By being a force for allyship, managers can positively impact the organisation’s reputation and attract talented individuals from diverse backgrounds. 

➖Encourage the use of gender-neutral pronouns so that we don’t associate the person we’re talking about with a specific gender. 'Sex does not predetermine a person’s gender and many people’s gender doesn’t sit comfortably with the sex they were assigned at birth. The easiest way to learn what pronouns someone uses is just to politely ask them (“Hey, what pronouns do you use?”)', Stonewall.

Workplace adjustments: bathroom access and dress code.

Ensure you have clear policy around use of work facilities like toilets, for example by designating - depending on company and office size - at least one bathroom as gender neutral. Similarly, ensure the organisation's dress code also includes gender neutral options.

A clear process around name changes.

Challenges encountered when changing names, such as deadnaming (accidentally or deliberately using the name a trans person used to go by) can be a source of frustration and hurt for trans folks. Ensure you have a clear process in place for managing name changes at work and that managers and colleagues are clear on what it is. It may also be helpful to ensure HR teams and managers are aware of the differences between enrolled and unenrolled deed poll.

➖Offer Intersectional Allyship programmes to raise awareness and create shared accountability to drive inclusion. Support all employees and people managers to understand how to be an Ally. Below is a video by Deloitte aiming to help increase understanding what Allyship means.

➖ Enable LGBTQ+ employees to self-identify and select their pronouns on internal systems, including during the hiring process. This not only sends an explicit signal about inclusion to the entire workforce and applicants but enables data collection on LGBTQ+ employees. Self-identification is an important foundation for measuring the success of D&I initiatives. Specifically, this data allows employee surveys designed to “pulse check” feelings of inclusion and pain points over time to determine the efficacy of D&I efforts and reprioritisation, if necessary', A New LGBTQ Workforce Has Arrived—Inclusive Cultures Must Follow, Boston Consulting Group.

➖Embed messages throughout onboarding materials and pan organisational communications/ training about not making assumptions about people’s personal lives or gender.  At the most basic level, this means not automatically asking women about husbands or boyfriends, and men about wives or girlfriends. Instead, employees should be encouraged to use terms such as “friend,” “spouse,” and “partner.”

➖Build awareness and support for employees coming out as Trans at Work. This is an article from Harvard Business Review on this topic.

 ➖ Empower people managers to address microaggressions, lead with empathy and vulnerability to create a trusting space where LGBTQ+ (and other underrepresented employees) feel comfortable sharing their personal experiences by:

  • Providing training and resources so people managers learn how to spot a microaggression.
  • Coaching managers on how to create space for employees to share personal experiences. Managers must foster a psychologically safe place for underrepresented employees to comfortably share their personal experiences with their teams.
  • Encouraging practicing empathy —  encourage managers to practice active listening and to pay attention to employees’ tone of voice, body language and context when employees share a personal experience.
  • Sharing a list of stakeholders and resources managers can use to connect with peers or other leaders, leverage employee resource groups (ERG) or refer their direct reports to employee assistance programmes.
  • Addressing questions and concerns efficiently using appropriate reporting mechanisms to ensure employees feel heard. People managers must be made aware of the established criteria for handling questions, concerns or allegations made by employees.

Organisations Signatories are working with on LGBT+ inclusion

Further information