The month of June is widely recognised as Pride Month to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community, and whether you identify as LGBTQ+ or not you have probably noticed mentions of colourful Pride celebrations more and more across your social news feeds. Many companies have changed their logos into rainbow flags especially for the month of June but does a colour change of your logo do enough to demonstrate to your stakeholders, employees and potential candidates that you are a company that embraces diversity and inclusion? The answer is simply no. As with all aspects of employer branding it’s important to be authentic, and if you want to be perceived in a particular way (e.g. a company that embraces LGBTQ+ diversity) then you’ll need to impact internal change rather than skew your marketing messages to suit. If this is something that is on your to-do list, then we suggest you start off first by looking at your team engagement strategy.
How to encourage LGBTQ+ inclusion through team engagement
Look at your mission and values
Your mission and values help to make up your company’s entire employer brand architecture, so if you want to reinforce a message of diversity and inclusion for all then this needs to be considered from the very beginning. You want to communicate and champion the fact that you are creating an environment where everyone is welcome and where all employees can genuinely be themselves in their job. This is something that we saw a great example of at this year’s World Employer Branding Day from Vodafone – they were helping to raise awareness of the additional burden that someone who identifies as LGBTQ+ can carry when they are in work. Companies that recognise this early on and prioritise diversity and inclusion within their mission and values as part of their team engagement strategy will have a lot more success than those that consider this as an afterthought - take a look at the inspiring video from Vodafone below to learn more.
Equality & Diversity Training
According to a US study from GLAAD, more than 40% of lesbian, gay, and bisexual people and almost 90% of transgender people have experienced employment discrimination, harassment or mistreatment in work. This can occur at every level of your business and potentially be happening right now without business leaders being aware of it! Education and training are great ways to outline LGBTQ+ supportive policies and reinforce your position as an LGBTQ+ friendly place to work too. You can either implement this training internally or reach out to an expert company to help you. Slightly different to diversity and inclusion training for workplace team engagement, but I’d recommend you check out The Unmistakables “Wokeshops”, Asad Dhunna (Founder of the Unmistakables and Director of Communications for Pride in London) is helping brands to avoid “tone deaf” campaigns from a marketing perspective by giving them a better insight into the voices that are less heard.
Give everyone a voice
Whilst the majority of an employee’s day at work will be spent on their set tasks and responsibilities, it’s important to create a culture and environment where every single employee feels they can speak up and be themselves. You want people to feel comfortable showing their true selves and personalities, so consider providing an outlet that encourages this. For some it’s as simple as a colourful whiteboard where employees can express their opinions and messages for everyone in the office to see, alternatively you could look to include more diversity across all aspects of the business and consider how you can market this to potential candidates.
Lead by example
As with all aspects of a team engagement strategy, the most effective plans will always be upheld and consistently reinforced from the top down. You’ll need to make sure you managers are leading by example and supporting LGBTQ+ employees by creating a more welcoming environment to be in. One way to do this is to provide a safe outlet for employees to leave feedback (potentially anonymously) so that you are aware of any issues where employees may feel uncomfortable in the workplace. This is something we would strongly advise you do for your overall team engagement strategy as companies who wait to hear their employees’ feedback at annual reviews / appraisals can often be unaware of problems that can escalate within the business often will not find out until too late!
Look at your environment
While you may think that your working environment isn’t directly linked to team engagement, it’s surprising how certain factors can help employees feel more happy and engaged in their roles. Things like more natural light, temperature control and comfortable chairs can help employees feel happier in work, so when it comes to supporting your LGBTQ+ employees why not consider how you could improve your environment here too? This could be something like the introduction of gender neutral bathrooms to allow for more inclusivity across all employees.
Give something back
A great way to demonstrate to potential candidates that you are an employer who champions the LGBTQ+ community is to align yourself with or support a charitable cause within this space. This could be sponsoring or getting involved with Pride celebrations in your hometown or City or even taking it a step further and helping a cause that is close to the LGBTQ+ community. Smirnoff for example have supported the Soho Angels initiative which is a charitable cause in partnership with Westminster City Council to help individuals within the LGBTQ+ community to have a safe night out. By supporting the cause, Smirnoff are not just helping thousands of people, but they are demonstrating their support for the LGBTQ+ community, which will potentially help attract more candidates who identify as this themselves too.
Want to shout about the fact that you support LGBTQ+ employees and are proud of your culture of inclusivity and diversity? Then the best way to get this across is through the horse’s mouth! If you have employees who identify as LGBTQ+ who believe that your company is working hard to make your culture more inclusive and feel supported as an employee there, then you should be bringing this to the forefront of your team engagement and recruitment marketing campaigns. It could be an interview with an employee, a video showcasing your people or even a dedicated social page aimed at showcasing diversity in your organisation. Showcasing real stories from people who work from you is so much more authentic than simply declaring yourself as an inclusive employer and throwing a rainbow on your logo for Pride, and candidates are much more likely to buy into you this way too. Below is an example of how HSBC have showcased one of their own employees for a customer perspective, and highlighted the ways they have trained and educated their employees for supporting their LGBTQ+ customers too.
Final thoughts for team engagement & LGBTQ+ inclusivity
Ultimately your team engagement strategy should concentrate on inclusivity for everyone at your organisation, and whilst you may feel that concentrating on this as a whole will do enough to keep everyone in your organisation engaged, it is important to consider demographics (such as LGBTQ+ employees) and understand how their experience in the workplace could be different to the majority of your employees. Sometimes you will have to go the extra mile to ensure everyone is happy, engaged and supported in the workplace, and that is what the best employers are doing right now.