Two recent studies published earlier in 2020 have looked at LGBT diversity in the workplace, Diversity: The LGBT 350 by Credit Suisse and Time for Change by indeed. Time for Change revealed that 22% of LGBT workers don’t feel comfortable being their true selves at work, and from a financial point of view Diversity: The LGBT 350 found that LGBT-inclusive companies score better on financial metrics.
What is the state of play of diversity, inclusion and belonging in the workplace?
Time for Change outlines that for many businesses, diversity, inclusion and belonging (DI&B) have become mainstream priorities for the success and longevity of an organisation. It is no surprise therefore that 89% of the workforce state that DI&B is important for them. Organisations have rated their own DI&B approaches, with a total of 72% either ‘good’ or ‘excellent’.
To build an inclusive and supportive workplace means ensuring that all employees feel comfortable to be themselves at work. Zooming in at this next level of granularity, we see that the most likely groups to hide a part of themselves at work include Bisexual and Lesbian and gay workers.
Looking wider across Europe, at the annual benchmarking done by Rainbow Europe (which looks at 69 criteria of countries), the Diversity: The LGBT 350 report identified that European legislation is not improving. Whilst there are some positive developments (e.g. the Constitutional protection from the Federal Court in Switzerland of gender identity), the overall benchmarking score for almost half European countries has not changed in 2020 from the previous year.
What has been the effect of DI&B during covid-19 lockdown restrictions?
As part of the Time for Change report, indeed interviewed Emma Slade Edmondson, a Strategic Creative Director at her own consultancy. Edmondson points out that “There has been less focus on the inclusion of team members and the ability to place checks on people’s mental health due to physical barriers of not being present in an office.”
She also points to the fact that companies are relatively fortunate that a shift to remote working has coincided with a peak in the Black Lives Matter movement. “This has meant that companies have been forced to address racial or other injustices present in their workplaces and have had the luxury of time and physical distance to do so. It will be interesting to see if they keep up their efforts going forward into a new working environment where home working is the norm. Because efforts to ensure that minority colleagues are recognised, and their progression is considered, is as pivotal as ensuring people have the correct tech requirements.”
Taking a learning from the Covid-19 lockdown way of working, Edmondson advised that if organisations haven’t built up a robust and authentic basis for DI&B strategies over time, they will struggle to communicate with and maintain relationships with their staff and customers base in times of social and economic hardship.
What is the financial importance of fostering diversity, inclusion and belonging?
Taking a step back and a global look at the relevance of the LGBT community within the context of DI&B, the Diversity: The LGBT 350 report shows that 8% of the population of US millennials identify as LGBT+, and that the equivalent figure for Germany Spain, the UK and the Netherlands is 6%. If the global population of people identifying as LGBT+ were equivalent to the economic output of a country, it would be the 4th largest country. No surprise therefore that LGBT+ consumers spend more on a range of products and services than non-LGBT+ spenders.
The Diversity: The LGBT 350 report further found that companies that do take a pro-active approach to DI&B for the LGBT community have proven stronger share price performance, stronger revenue growth.
How to build a workplace that includes everyone?
All businesses should have DI&B priorities within their organisations, not least because diversity is a theme throughout a number of the United Nations’ Sustainability Goals (Good health and wellbeing, Gender equality, and Reduced Inequalities).
How then, regardless of the pace of change of laws in the countries within which they operate, can organisations build a workplace that includes everyone? Time for Change highlights 5 tips:
- Educate your employees – train new recruiters and hiring managers to recognise bias and how to take action
- Make job postings gender neutral – this may help jobseekers to see possibilities they may not have considered before.
- Expand the search – encourage recruiters and managers to cast a wide net earlier in a candidate’s job search
- Tell good stories – employee stories can do wonders to demonstrate your company’s inclusive and welcoming structure
- Build an inclusion team – to advocate for inclusion inside your organisation, spearhead partnerships, setting up speakers’ series, and advancing the formation of inclusion groups.