Even if you think your workplace is already LGBTQIA+ friendly, it’s always a good idea to review policies and look for areas that need improvement. We’ve put together some basic tips to help you make your place of work inclusive for everyone—including employees, customers, and service providers.
A good place to start is by understanding the acronyms. LGBTQIA+ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual (or allies, depending on your source of information). The plus sign represents individuals who don’t fall into any other categories.
Pronouns are another part of inclusive language. If you have a company website that profiles your team, make sure their pronouns of choice are included with their names. Some employees may not want to specify a pronoun at all. The important thing is that the option is provided and encouraged. Within the workplace, it may also help to send out memos regarding the use of gender pronouns. Your office may decide to refer to everyone as “team members” instead of “gentlemen” and “ladies.”
So, instead of starting a morning briefing with “Good morning, ladies and gentlemen,” the introduction could simply be “Good morning, team,” or even the more informal, “Good morning, people.” There are multiple options that you can customize to fit the formality level of your workplace.
Another area where you may find your workplace is outdated is the dress code. We’re not just talking about wearing men’s and women’s T-shirts and jeans on Fridays; creating an inclusive dress code goes much deeper.
Comfort should always be prioritized, even for formal offices. That doesn’t mean you have to let your employees wear men’s and women's loungewear to work, but it does mean some fashion restrictions should be loosened. For example, you could change the requirement for women’s and men’s dress shoes to one where more casual shoes can be worn if they’re simple in design and neutral in color.
In addition to allowing more comfortable apparel for all employees, it may be time to get rid of skirt-and-pant requirements or restrictions. For example, if your office has a rule that women must wear skirts of a certain length, perhaps it’s time to allow the option of shorts and pants, too. Men’s and women’s pants come in many styles; some of which work for business-casual workplaces.
In addition, people of all genders or gender-fluid employees should have the option to choose whether they prefer a skirt, dress, or pants. Skorts are an option for anyone who wants the modesty and comfort of shorts with the dressy look of a skirt.
Keeping the lines of communication open is crucial to maintaining an LGBTQIA+ friendly workplace. Hold meetings once a month or more frequently if you feel the need or issues arise. These meetings should not only allow time for any company updates that need to be shared but also for employees to discuss any issues or concerns they may have.
Some companies require mandatory meetings, while others give employees the option of whether or not they wish to attend. When it comes to social issues, it’s likely best to allow optional attendance. You can always send out a meeting summary to all employees to keep everyone up to speed.
If you hold workplace meetings during off-hours, casual dress is recommended. If you’re hosting the meeting, look polished while staying comfortable in elastic-waist khaki pants or black jeans. Tunics come in many colors and styles, so it’s easy to find one that’s office-appropriate without making you feel overdressed.
Your workplace can also get involved with LGBTQIA+ events, such as Pride month. It’s held in June and honors the Stonewall Uprising, a pivotal point for the gay rights movement. Although it started as a single day, Pride is now celebrated all month, and there are plenty of ways for your business to get involved.
During the month of June, you could donate a portion of proceeds to an LGBTQIA+ charity or hold a fundraising event. Give each employee rainbow accessories—like a hat or canvas tote bag —or swap out your usual company shirts for the month with a rainbow print.
Men’s and women’s polo shirts are always a good option when choosing a shirt style for work. Polos come in many colors, including every hue of the rainbow spectrum. Plus, they’re made from high-quality materials such as cotton mesh and high-performance polyester to keep you and your team cool and comfortable.
Get your whole team involved when coming up with ways to make your workplace more LGBTQIA+ friendly. Even a casual 15-minute chat in the breakroom can generate many ideas on inclusivity and give staff members a chance to be heard. These are just some of the ways you can ensure an LBGTQIA+ friendly workplace. Integrate these guidelines into your business and brainstorm with your team about other ways to create a work environment that’s safe, welcoming, and inclusive to all.