There’s no denying that progress to increase LGBTQ+ inclusion within the workplace is steadily being made, particularly as businesses realise the benefits of a diversified workforce and the importance of D&I. However, there is still a long way to go until full employment equality for LGBTQ+ communities is successfully achieved.
LGBTQ+ people still continue to face challenges and barriers when it comes to employment and the hiring process. Research by Stonewall and YouGov has found that almost one in five LGBTQ+ people have been discriminated against because of their sexual orientation or gender identity while trying to find a job over the past year.
In addition to this, more than a third of LGBTQ+ people who are looking for a new job are concerned about being discriminated against or harassed for their sexual orientation or gender identity in the workplace.
To ensure that LGBTQ+ communities feel safe, supported and confident during the hiring process and within the workplace, it’s up to employers to start adopting more inclusive recruitment practices when hiring for a new role.
Inclusive recruitment ensures that there are fair and equal opportunities for all candidates during the hiring process, by being accessible and relevant to people from a diverse range of backgrounds, including those in LGBTQ+ communities. This helps to remove unconscious bias and discrimination from the hiring process and fosters a more inclusive work environment.
So if you’d like to be more proactive when it comes to welcoming and celebrating LGBTQ+ people within your workplace, here’s some simple inclusive recruitment strategies you can use.
To make your hiring process more inclusive to LGBTQ+ candidates, all of your communications, from your job adverts to your marketing emails, should include gender neutral language. For example, rather than using “he or she” to describe a potential candidate, you should use “they or them” instead as its more inclusive to non-binary or gender non-confirming candidates.
You should also remove words such as “dominate” and “aggressive” because they can be off-putting and create the impression of a non-supportive company culture. In addition to removing this exclusionary and gendered language from your job ads and website, you can also add a statement about how your business is LGBTQ+ inclusive and welcomes all gender identities and sexual orientations to apply.
Research has found that job ads that include inclusive and gender-neutral language perform significantly better and have a higher application rate than those that don’t, giving businesses even more reason to rethink the language they are using. If you’re still unsure, there are tools online that can help you identify any gendered language or unconscious bias in your recruitment content that might have slipped through the net.
If you’re trying to attract LGBTQ+ candidates to your business, you should be continuously showcasing your public support for the community and highlighting your D&I efforts. Believe it or not, new research has found that 41% of LGBTQ+ people won’t apply to a business where there is little evidence of D&I within the team.
By communicating your LGBTQ+ inclusion efforts and support regularly, these candidates will know that they can apply in confidence and without fear of discrimination.
Acknowledging Pride month is a fantastic place to start, but don’t limit your support to just one month out of the year. You could fundraise or volunteer at LGBTQ+ charities, causes and community centres, all of which can be a fantastic opportunity for brand recognition and team building. This can then increase job satisfaction and employee retention, as well as fostering a more inclusive work environment.
Finally, if you have any LGBTQ+ employees on your existing team, you should consider providing them with a platform where they can share their experiences of working with your business. This can further encourage prospective LGBTQ+ candidates to want to be part of your team.
To ensure that any LGBTQ+ person who joins your team feels safe and supported within the workplace, it’s crucial that every member of your workforce, from the top down, undergoes regular D&I training. Education, particularly on issues that directly impact LGBTQ+ employees, is the key to fostering a more inclusive work environment and increasing awareness and acceptance.
It’s important to educate your existing team on correct terminology, respecting boundaries and communicating respectfully, as well as what anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination looks like and the process for reporting any issues. You should also update them on any LGBTQ+ focused policies you introduce and how you intend to tackle discrimination against sexual orientation and gender identity.
Some of your LGBTQ+ candidates might prefer to be called a different name to what is written on their legal documents. They might also prefer to go by a different pronoun. Unfortunately, having to explain this to an interviewer during an interview can be a significant source of anxiety and stress.
Thankfully, there is a simple way to avoid this. All you need to do is include a space within your job applications where candidates can include their preferred names and pronouns, in addition to their legal name. That way, the interviewer will know this information ahead of time and any awkward conversations can be avoided. Having this simple box or space can also signal to LGBTQ+ candidates that your business is respectful of all identities, which can further encourage to apply.
While it can be empowering for many to be given the option of sharing their preferred name or pronouns, it’s important to realise that some LGBTQ+ candidates may not feel comfortable disclosing this information straight away and they should never be pressured to do so.
These are just a handful of ways in which you can use inclusive recruitment to create a hiring process and work environment that promotes equality and inclusivity of LGBTQ+ candidates. Employers will continue to play a crucial role in helping to advance LGBTQ+ rights in the workplace and promoting positive change moving forward.
Just remember that your LGBTQ+ inclusion efforts should go beyond sharing a rainbow post on social media for Pride month. They should be ongoing and consistent in order for real change to occur.
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