On June 26, 2015, the United State Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that state-level bans on same-sex marriage were unconstitutional, ushering in marriage equality nationwide. However, despite the inroads made towards LGBTQ+ rights, many companies are still playing catch up when it comes to hiring, supporting and understanding the value of LGBTQ+ employees.
While there are legal protections in place to protect LGBTQ+ employers from discrimination in the workplace in many countries, in over half of the world, LGBTQ+ people are not protected from discrimination under workplace law. In a survey by the Center for American Progress (Cap) in 2022, half of LGBTQ+ and “sexual and gender diverse” people reported experiencing some form of workplace discrimination or harassment due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. This rocketed to 70% for transgender respondents. In the UK, 40% of LGBTQ+ workers and 55% of trans workers have experienced harassment, compared with 29% of heterosexual, cisgender employees.
These issues are not only troublesome for LGBTQ+ individuals in the workplace, but they are also bad for businesses. In this post, we outline the value of hiring and fostering a positive workplace environment for LGBTQ+ employees.
The Importance of Workplace Diversity
Today’s workforce has become increasingly diverse. Companies are more aware of the benefits of hiring talent from various backgrounds and the incredible contributions these employees bring to the workplace.
A well-managed diverse workforce will both reduce costs and generate greater profit, with companies that employ a diverse workforce having 35 percent higher financial returns than national averages according to a McKinsey report on workplace diversity. This clearly illustrates the importance of diversity in the workplace not only for a company’s culture but also for its bottom line.
Diversity does not just mean including women and persons from diverse racial, ethnic and religious backgrounds; it also means that businesses can benefit from hiring LGBTQ+ employees and creating a supportive atmosphere for them to thrive.
Workplace Diversity: Benefits for LGBTQ+ Individuals
For starters, LGBTQ+ supportive policies will have an instant effect on individual employees, consequentially creating less workplace discrimination and improved comfort about being openly LGBTQ+ at work.
According to a survey conducted by the Williams Institute, The Business Impact of LGBT-Supportive Workplace Policies, LGBTQ+ employees who feel the need to hide their identity in the workplace often feel greater levels of stress and anxiety causing health issues and work-related complaints.
By creating an LGBTQ-friendly workplace, companies can reduce stress and improve the health of LGBTQ+ employees, increase job satisfaction and create more positive relationships with co-workers and supervisors.
Workplace Diversity: Benefits for Businesses
Following the individual benefits, organizational outcomes will also improve. Employers with LGBTQ-friendly workplaces will benefit from lower legal costs related to discrimination lawsuits as well as lower health insurance cost, through improved health of employees.
In fact, a study by Out Now Consulting, LGBT 2030 – LGBT Diversity Show Me the Business Case, states that the U.S. economy could save $9 billion annually if organizations were more effective at implementing diversity and inclusion policies for LGBTQ+ staff.
By recruiting LGBTQ+ candidates, companies will open up the talent pool to more potential hires, making finding the right talent for a company easier than if they ignored a large and talent-rich demographic.
How to Successfully Recruit LGBTQ+ Individuals
Learning how to recruit LGBTQ+ individuals is the first step in creating a more LGBTQ-friendly workplace. To recruit LGBTQ+ talent, businesses need to tailor their recruitment approach to meet the unique expectations LGBTQ+ individuals have when in a job search. Below are three ways to better recruit top LGBTQ+ talent.
Do Market Research
To better understand the unique concerns and needs of LGBTQ+ individuals, businesses need to identify positive factors that appeal to LGBTQ+ candidates along with the negative factors that repel them. A good way to identify positive and negative factors is by surveying current LGBTQ+ employees. If a company lacks a large enough sample size, they can acquire survey data from third parties or diversity consultants. Companies should take the data and insights gleaned from surveys and polls to craft LGBTQ-friendly messaging in job postings and recruiter communications, so the target audience feels comfortable considering employment with the organization.
Create an LGBTQ-Friendly Recruitment Process
To successfully recruit the best LGBTQ+ talent, companies need a comprehensive approach that includes tailored LGBTQ-friendly employer branding and diversity-oriented talent acquisition professionals experienced in assessing diverse candidates. Companies can also focus efforts on recruiting LGBTQ+ interns and offer them the opportunity to join the organization full-time after the internship is completed. By creating a more LGBTQ-friendly recruitment process, companies will ensure that LGBTQ+ individuals are more likely to accept offers of employment.
Employee referrals can be a strong LGBTQ+ recruitment source. Companies with employee referral programs should adopt a diversity-focused approach that includes LGBTQ+ candidates. Companies should publicize this focus to employees, letting them know that the company is actively searching for and encouraging the recruitment of LGBTQ+ candidates to fill positions.
Workplace Inclusion Programs for LGBTQ+ Individuals
Creating a diversity inclusion program is one way of helping LGBTQ+ employees and other diverse members of a company feel welcome and comfortable at work. A well-run inclusion program should support LGBTQ+ individuals in the workplace by offering workshops, training and support from both management and HR. The overall goal of inclusion is to make LGBTQ+ employees feel safe and like an integral part of a company.
Companies can also collaborate with outside LGBTQ+ organizations and charities and encourage both LGBTQ+ and non-LGBTQ+ employees to participate in events sponsored by these organizations. By aligning company values with those of LGBTQ+ organizations, companies can show their commitment not only to LGBTQ+ employees but also to supporting equality in the community as well.
Diversity and inclusion policies and programs can also save a significant amount of money spent on new talent recruitment and training by helping retain great talent. Furthermore, a more diverse and open workplace will increase creativity, which will lead to innovation and new ideas.
As the world becomes more accepting and understanding of the LGBTQ+ community, people expect businesses to do the same. Companies who work towards change to create a more acceptable and tolerant environment will gain the respect and loyalty of employees and the public-at-large. While there is still a lot of work ahead, there are a rising number of companies that understand that equality is good for business.
Only 5% of organizations say they’re succeeding with their DE&I initiatives. Download our free research report, Diversity & the Candidate Experience: Identifying Recruitment Pitfalls to Improve DE&I Outcomes, for insights into how to improve diversity recruitment outcomes.