LGBTQ+ identity in the workplace has come a long way, but there’s still ground to be covered. About a third of workers (34%) identify as LGBTQ+ or queer, according to a new Monster poll of workers. But about one in six workers (15%) who identify as LGBTQ+ are not “out” at work, and 55% of workers estimate that their organization has fewer than two percent of LGBTQ+ identifying employees.
“I think that first number partly reflects that it’s becoming more commonplace, and that there are communities and support for people where they can navigate their identity,” says Mikaela Kiner, founder and CEO at Reverb, an HR consulting firm. “The unfortunate part of that statistic is that while there are people identifying that way, it’s still only a small percent of them that are willing to be open about it in the workplace.”
Here’s the latest on workers identifying as LGBTQ+ — and how companies can attract and retain diverse talent.
Create an Inclusive Hiring Process
Attracting LGBTQ+ talent requires building (and promoting) a culture of inclusion and belonging, starting with the application process:
- Write inclusive job ads. You might not even realize that your job advertisements are inadvertently biased, or written in a way that discourages certain groups from applying.
- Check your application system. Does it include a variety of pronoun and salutation options?
- Train hiring managers. Diversity training can help hiring managers make the right moves, such as respectfully asking about preferred pronouns during the interview process.
Determine Your Pronoun Strategy
Nearly eight in ten workers report that they’re never asked their pronouns when first meeting coworkers, Monster found. “To encourage equality and inclusivity, employees should be given the option to disclose pronouns, but it doesn’t have to be mandatory,” says Vicki Salemi, Monster career expert. “It is technically a new area, so the decision should ultimately be up to the employee to disclose it.”
There are also more passive ways to send a signal that preferred pronouns are a welcome topic: eight percent of workers identifying as LGBTQ+ (and six percent of straight or cisgender workers) include their personal pronouns on their email signature, company profile or video call identifier, for instance.
“That’s one thing we can do to normalize it,” Kiner says. “If it’s something everyone is doing, then it’s not calling anyone out. I like to think it’s the most inclusive approach, where everyone can just share pronouns.”
Show Inclusivity in Employer Branding
Workers consistently name a company’s diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) initiatives among their top priorities, so it’s important to spotlight the work your company is doing in this arena. Employer branding is one area of focus.
“There’s been a trend toward more personalized [equal opportunity employer] statements, getting away from just the legal verbiage,” Kiner says. “Saying things like, ‘We embrace all identities’ and being really proactive in how you express that, whether it’s on your website or on your job postings and other social media. Those are things that need to happen year-round, and not just in Pride Month.”
The employee value proposition is another area in which companies can be thoughtful and clarify their values and culture. For instance, you can use your EVP to commit to work-life balance, flexibility, DE&I and salary protection.
Build Belonging for New and Existing Employees
Three-quarters of workers (76%) say their organization doesn’t have an LGBTQ+ employee resource group or support group. ERGs foster a sense of community and help build employee loyalty. If you don’t have an ERG for your workers identifying as LGBTQ+ and their allies, consider gauging employee interest. Even if you’re a small employer, it’s still possible to implement an ERG on a smaller scale.
“The general message needs to be, ‘We’re welcoming you to be an employee as your full self, whoever you are,’” says Laura MacLeod, an HR expert and consultant with From The Inside Out Project, an employee-morale company. “And to model that, you could say you have support groups and you’re also open to starting groups.”
If you have an ERG or support group, make sure you’re giving it the resources, attention and planning it requires. What does the budget look like? How often will the ERG have events, and what kind of events will it have? How do you bolster education and community support?
“You don’t want to have an ERG just to have it,” Salemi says. “You want to make it robust, interactive, engaging and profound, so it has an impact on employees. It’s also helpful to market this from a recruiting standpoint to prospective job seekers, so they can see that they can be seen, heard, valued, and recognized.”
Learn More About DE&I
From tracking diverse candidates at your organization to auditing your hiring process, Monster’s guide, 5 Ways to Expand Your DEI Talent Pool, can answer all of your questions about creating an inclusive hiring process and retaining the best DEI talent. Download today to learn more.