In the US it is estimated that of 154.458 million people currently employed, approximately 9.88 million identify themselves as members of the LGBTQ+ population. Additionally, the data tells us that workplaces that are inclusive of gender identity and sexual orientation are one of the top priorities for Millennials and Gen Z. But beyond just saying that you support the LGBTQ+ community, what do you do to demonstrate your organization’s commitment to being inclusive of diverse gender identities and sexual orientations? And in this hyper-competitive job market, how do you ensure that your recruitment, retention, and professional development practices provide the highest level of affirmation and support for LGBTQ+ candidates and colleagues? (Illinois Diversity Council, 2022)
On June 23, 2022 I was thrilled to both attend and participate in a panel discussion at the Illinois Diversity Council’s annual LGBTQ+ Unity Summit titled “Bringing Pride to Your Workplace”. At this half day session, 50+ professionals took time from their schedules to answer the questions posed above. What resulted, was an enlightening and inspiring conversation around workplace inclusion and diversity.
1. Bring your whole self to work
Creating a truly inclusive work environment means that people feel safe and empowered to bring their whole selves to work. Mike Robbins (who literally wrote the book on it, titled, Bring Your Whole Self to Work) put it best when he explained, “Bringing our whole selves to work means showing up authentically, leading with humility, and remembering that we’re all vulnerable, imperfect human beings doing the best we can.” At the height of the pandemic and with the increase in remote and hybrid work models, this has become even more important as many of us are now bringing work into our homes.
When people, including myself, feel that they can't bring the whole of who they are, we and our work suffers. Engagement, productivity, and our well being all decrease. So fostering an environment where all employees feel they can be their authentic self also means that employees are more productive and fulfilled. Being my authentic, true self at work for example, means I can, and do, talk about my wife, Molly, and our life and do so without editing my language to be vague or non-specific.
2. Be an ally
Being an ally in the workplace means doing so not only as individuals but as a company. As an individual in the workplace, being an ally means ensuring that you are an active part of creating an inclusive workplace. What that looks like can take many forms, but it starts with education and awareness. Do you use gender inclusive language? Are you speaking up when offensive or non-inclusive language is being used? Do you apologize when you make a mistake? These are seemingly simple acts that ensure you are being a good ally to your coworkers.
As a company it’s critical to communicate and stand behind initiatives that support, improve, and advance diversity and inclusion, both internally and externally. How do you address events that impact your employee? Does your content represent diverse perspectives? Have you evaluated your benefits package to ensure it’s inclusive? Are your job descriptions inclusive?
Being an ally as a company means being authentic and vulnerable, not just a rainbow logo in June, but a daily commitment to build a truly inclusive culture.
3. Employee Resource Groups, or ERGs, matter
Everyone is part of building a diverse and inclusive environment. That’s why ERGs can be critical to an inclusive culture. They not only give employees a place to grow personally and professionally, but they promote relationship building and provide a forum for employees to share stories and ideas. At Hunt Club, for example, we have three employee resource groups. These are managed and run by employees, and notably, they are supported both in words and action by Hunt Club’s leaders.
- Hunt Club Cares provides our team with opportunities to give to the community, make deeper connections and promote a culture of doing what's right.
- Hunt Club Gathers provides opportunities for coworkers to build relationships with one another.
- Hunt Club Belongs works to create and propagate a culture of inclusiveness, equity and belonging among all Hunt Club teammates irrespective of their faith, beliefs, sexuality, gender identity, race, ethnicity, age, health or other status. They work collaboratively to ensure that each teammate can bring their authentic selves to work each day, to provide a safe space to address issues, and to embody our values both internally as well as externally.
When inclusion is a priority, ERGs can have a real business impact and positively inform the metrics for any company’s objectives and key results.
Continue learning, continue growing
Learn more about the Illinois Diversity Council and how your company can promote an inclusive and welcoming workplace environment both at home and in the office.
Gain insight into growing and promoting an equitable organization by attending an Illinois Diversity Council’s event or workshop.
Discover 7 trailblazing LGBTQIA+ entrepreneurs and founders transforming their communities.
Build a more diverse and inclusive team with Hunt Club.