What Can Your Business Do To Support The LGBTQIA+ Community?
For those who don't identify as LGBTQIA+, it's not easy to see the issues that those who do face in the workplace daily, which is why it's important that we all take this month as a chance to educate ourselves and discover ways that we can all make life a little easier for LGBTQIA+ individuals in the business world. I caught up with Steve from Big Bright Bear Virtual Assistance Ltd, an advocate for the LGBTQIA+ community and a valued client at Electric Works. Big Bright Bear provide a full range of business services to include transcription, data mining, research, report design, invoicing, debt management and inbox management. The virtual PA also offers IT support, including purchasing, onboarding, offboarding as well as 1:1 training. "I set up the company earlier this year to support other LGBTQIA+ business owners, community groups and charities with admin and IT support to enable them to deliver their message to the world." According to one of the UKs leading LGBTQIA+ charities, Stonewall.org, allies are a crucial element of ensuring inclusion for all as they can help spread the message that diversity is celebrated by your organisation, Steve explains that "Whilst Big Bright Bear is LGBTQIA+ focused, I also work with our allies, as long as they also embrace the message of inclusivity and pride." Supporting LGBTQIA+ is all about giving the community a voice, both sharing and channeling those voices throughout your organisation. Some effective ways of doing this is taking part in a Diversity Champions Programme, encouraging involvement from all employees, and consulting all employees – both LGBT and non-LGBT – about what inclusion looks like in your organisation to help ensure your strategy is appropriate and that all staff share your vision. "After a 20 year career in retail and office management, and living as an out gay man, I have always wanted to provide a service like Big Bright Bear, where LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs have a safe and supportive partner to enable them to deliver their service or product. Think of me as the cuddly teddy you used to take everywhere as a kid for support. The services I provide a big virtual hug to my clients." "With June being Pride Month, now is the perfect time to remind everyone how important the message of equality is. The queer world is represented now more than ever, however there are members of our community who still face a daily struggle to be included and accepted." The harsh reality is that often workplace policies are not inclusive for all. According to the LGBT in Britain Work Report in 2018 one in five LGBT staff (18 per cent) have been the target of negative comments or conduct from work colleagues in the last year because they are LGBT.
This includes being the target of derogatory remarks, experiencing bullying and abuse, and being outed without consent. This rises to a third of trans people (33 per cent) and one in four LGBT disabled people (26 per cent) and one in eight lesbian, gay and bisexual people (12 per cent) wouldn’t feel confident reporting any homophobic or bi-phobic bullying to their employer and one in five trans people (21 per cent) wouldn’t report transphobic bullying in the workplace. There are several ways you can make your policies more inclusive to prevent and combat these issues such as, prioritising diversity training, ensuring your policies are fully inclusive such as health benefits, supporting parental leave rather than just maternity leave, and set an inclusivity mission statement - You can find some great examples online. LGBTQIA+ individuals also face barriers when it comes to recruitment and promotion. Almost one in five LGBT people (18 per cent) who were looking for work said they were discriminated against because of their sexual orientation or gender identity while trying to get a job in the last year. It's important as an organisation to make it very clear that you welcome LGBTQIA+ individuals with open arms, shout out about it on your social media & website, post your jobs vacancies on an LGBT recruitment site, and actively supporting LGBTQ charities and causes. Steve went on to advise, "Informing people of your pronouns helps to include members of our trans and non-binary community and using the correct pronouns means so much more. This Pride month, take the time to educate yourself and your business, being inclusive doesn’t just happen one month of the year, but every single day." An easy way for companies to introduce gender pronouns into the conversation is to include your pronouns on your email signature, giving you both an internal and external reminder. If you have any questions, or would like to discuss how your business can support the LGBTQIA+ community, feel free to get in touch with Steve.
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