Out & Equal Executive Director Selisse Berry says, “I believe that no one should ever have to choose between a career we love and living our lives with authenticity and integrity.” This, unfortunately, isn’t always true for LGBTQ+ employees. People in this community often find themselves in the position of having to decide how open they want to be at work about their personal lives.
And the best way to address this is to be proactive. That means companies need to develop their diversity and inclusion efforts—especially toward the LGBTQ+ community. Here’s how improving D&I in your organization and utilizing employer branding helps you attract—and hire—qualified candidates from this talent pool.
Let’s first start by explaining what the term LGBTQ+ means in a broader context: The acronym refers to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and other groups within the community; the “+” is an intentional sign that signals different identities are also welcomed and accepted.
Many members of the LGBTQ+ community, unfortunately, don’t necessarily feel like their employers and colleagues embrace their diverse backgrounds. According to the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, nearly half—46 percent—of them remain closeted at work. That figure has barely moved since 2008, when 50 percent of workers were closeted. Even given the social progress that’s been made over the past decade—the legalization of same-sex marriage, for example—this striking statistic shows that many people still don’t feel comfortable expressing their identities to colleagues.
And this sense of alienation has a quantifiable impact on employee attrition. In fact, one in five LGBTQ+ workers have searched for a different job because of their colleagues’ biases, per the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.
What can you and your organization do to tackle this problem? The good news is, it’s entirely possible. Here’s how you can create new policies to improve D&I:
● Hold training sessions about unconscious biases.
● Clearly define how employees are expected to show respect in the workplace to their colleagues.
● Organize an LGBTQ+ affinity group—as well as others—to promote and cultivate understanding and acceptance across your organization.
● Educate your employees on the LGBTQ+ community and the specific challenges they face.
Employer branding is the key to providing potential applicants with an in-depth understanding of both the role and your company culture. According to LinkedIn, it’s an essential contributor to reducing recruiting costs. Organizations with a strong employer reputation see their cost-per-hire decrease by 43 percent compared to their competitors.
Here are some ways you can create employer branding content that showcases your LGBTQ+-friendly culture:
● Highlight how your company celebrates holidays like Pride Month.
● Create video testimonials of diverse employees explaining why they chose to work for your organization—and what they love about it.
● Include photos on your social media accounts and website that display a heterogeneous team.
It’s critically important, though, that you accurately portray your company culture. If you falsely present your organization as being more diverse than it is, you’ll turn off top candidates—and hurt your employer brand and reputation. That said, there are many opportunities to create content and policies that show this is an important issue to your organization. Just because you’re not currently where you’d like to be doesn’t mean you won’t or can’t get there. It just takes a concerted effort, and you need to get support and buy-in from employees across your company.
An organizational commitment to diversity and inclusion helps you not only attract top LGBTQ+ talent, but also retain them. If you foster and promote that kind of environment, you’ll have employees who live authentically and have a fulfilling career.