Pride, Work, and Mental Health: how businesses can be more inclusive of LGBTQ+ staff
June is Pride month, and while more organisations and businesses than ever are engaging with the themes of Pride, it’s important to recognise that work needs to be done all year round to improve inclusivity, acceptance, and understanding of the LGBTQ+ community and the issues they face.
Given prejudice and intolerance are still very much faced by people across the LGBTQ+ community, it’s important that safety at work isn’t assumed: it needs to be actively pursued, upheld, and advocated for.
Employers have a duty of care towards their workforce, and protecting and supporting team members’ mental health is a big part of that.
Why businesses need to improve inclusivity of LGBTQ+ staff
LGBTQ+ people are more likely to deal with mental health issues due to hostility, a lack of empathy or understanding, or even outright aggression from members of the public, family, or work colleagues.
At work, this can damage morale, harm company culture or reputation, and even lead to team members leaving.
Making changes to support LGBTQ+ people at work is a small but important step to wider changes for the better across society.
The benefits of supporting LGBTQ+ team members
Improved workplace culture
When team members feel safe, supported, and able to be themselves, their overall quality of wellbeing and happiness improves. This also improves the overall culture of a workplace, with staff more likely to be friends instead of just co-workers.
Furthermore, a happy workforce is more engaged and more productive. When staff feel safe, they’re empowered to work harder, knowing that their manager and wider team is there to support and appreciate them.
How businesses can protect the mental health of LGBTQ+ staff
Make the workplace a safe place to talk about mental health
As with almost any issue with work and mental health, the first step is ensuring that staff feel able to talk.
Providing a space where team members can talk about their mental health is vital in moving forward, but also for normalising the fact that mental health issues will inevitably come up from time to time, and should be talked about.
Learn more about cultivating psychological safety at work.
Education and diversity training
A large part of why LGBTQ+ people face difficulty at work is because many people aren’t aware of issues faced by the community.
Diversity & inclusion training is one of the most direct ways to foster empathy and awareness of LGBTQ+ issues among your workforce.
Seminars and workshops can help your team understand what language is and isn’t acceptable, begin to examine their unconscious bias, and develop an appreciation of other perspectives and experiences they may not have considered before.
This helps everyone understand each other more, which is a great basis for a working relationship.
Bullying at work must not be tolerated
Formal policies shape the workplace environment, and help protect everyone at work. This is important for LGBTQ+ people, as they may face additional scrutiny, judgement, or hostility at work.
As such, it’s important that there are clear guidelines around discrimination in the workplace, and that they are enforced consistently. This sends the message that discrimination or harassment against any minority group will not be tolerated.
Bullying at work can have an incredibly negative impact on our mental health, so it’s vital that it be tackled as quickly as possible before it can have a lasting impact.
These are just some ways that businesses can support their LGBTQ+ team members, helping them feel safe, supported, and able to be themselves at work.
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Posted on: 20th June 2023