4 minute read

Building a Supportive Work Environment: Nurturing LGBTQ+ Inclusivity and Mental Wellness

Awareness of and support for the LGBTQ+ community has increased across the globe in recent years. Yet, despite the progress that has been made, there is much more that can be done, and employers throughout Europe can play a central role in nurturing LGBTQ+ inclusivity and, as a result, improving mental wellness.

Many recent statistics speak to the challenges that face the LGBTQ+ community, and why it's so important for employers to take notice.

Ipsos surveyed 27 countries across the world for its LGBT+ Pride 2021 Global survey, finding that 80% of people identify as heterosexual compared to 9% that identify as either lesbian or homosexual, bisexual, pansexual or omnisexual, asexual or other. The remaining 11% said they didn't know or wouldn't say.

In addition, the same survey found that 51% of people across the globe support LGBTQ+ people being open about their gender identity and sexual orientation with everyone, while only 16% opposed that.

Naturally, the support was highest among Gen Z (61%) than it was with each successive older generation -- Millennials (51%), Gen Y (47%) and Baby Boomers (48%).

Even 47% of the respondents said they support brands and companies promoting equality for the LGBTQ+ community versus only 19% who opposed it.

Yet, at the same time, a 2020 study issued by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights found that 60% of gay and lesbian Europeans won't hold hands with their same-sex partners in public, and more than 50% of LGBTQ+ people in the continent are almost never open about their gender identities or sexual orientations.

These stats show a major disconnect between what people say they believe, and how members of the LGBTQ+ feel and act as a result. That's why it's incumbent for employers to build a supportive work environment.

Here are some ways companies can nurture LGBTQ+ inclusivity and mental wellness.

Create Inclusive Policies

The well-known saying goes that everything starts at the top and then trickles down. In terms of LGBTQ+ inclusivity, this means companies need to create policies that are inclusive to the community.

It's a great goal to want to become inclusive and to set policies that would help your organization achieve that goal. But, what actions are you taking to actually get there?

When you set policies that are inclusive of the LGBTQ+ community, it allows you to set clearly stated guidelines so everyone in the organisation can avoid discrimination. This, then, leads to all employees feeling included and part of the team, which leads to a supportive work environment.

Use Language That's Inclusive

While you're on the topic of setting company policies, you should carefully consider the language you use in writing these policies. One of the most direct ways that you can support LGBTQ+ inclusivity is to use language that isn't discriminatory by nature.

The words you use matter, and they matter a lot. When you use certain pronouns, for instance, you can make people feel ostracized and threatened. Using the right language can make them feel included, protected and empowered.

It's the company's job to set the example for all other employees. You could set a policy, for instance, that allows each employee to choose the pronouns they want to use for themselves. You can also eliminate the usage of all gender-affirming pronouns such as he or she in all official company documents.

This breaks down barriers for many people and creates a more supportive work environment where the conversation over what can be taboo topics can become more normalized.

Provide Ongoing Training

Active and ongoing education and training is one of the best ways to foster inclusivity and mental wellbeing in the workplace -- no matter what the topic of conversation. In regard to the LGBTQ+ community, it's especially important.

The training should seek to educate employees on the main issues that LGBTQ+ individuals face. This helps all employees understand where each other is coming from, which allows them to empathize with their situation.

It could also include how employees should handle and address any transphobia or homophobia that they experience in the workplace. This would help to provide support to all employees while also emphasizing how serious your company is about addressing and preventing these issues.

Offer Programs and Benefits

In addition to education and training, a great way to build a supportive work environment for all is to offer programs and benefits that are inclusive of the LGBTQ+ community. Many companies inadvertently exclude people from their benefits programs, without knowing they are doing so.

For instance, all companies should make sure their benefits package includes parental benefits that apply to LGBTQ+ individuals. This all starts with having the proper language that's inclusive so that the benefits packages apply to these individuals.

The words you choose to use matter in all cases, but especially in legal terms such as describing benefits.

Partner with Kara Connect

There are many ways in which organisations can build a supportive work environment on their own. Some of those ways are described above.

At times, though, it takes a strong and experienced partner to help a company truly nurture LGBTQ+ inclusivity and mental wellness.

By partnering with Kara Connect, companies can enjoy a full suite of services, including a customized Wellbeing Hub that's focused on preventing mental health issues before they become big problems. The services that Kara Connect offers are anonymous and secure, which allows employees to browse, book and attend sessions either in person or online.

Inclusivity and mental wellbeing are at the forefront of a lot of people's minds during Pride Month in June. When you partner with Kara Connect, you'll be ensuring that those are two things that are always being addressed year round.

Contact us today to find out more about how we can help your organisation build a supportive work environment that nurtures LGBTQ+ inclusivity and mental wellbeing.

Stay informed, stay inspired!

Florence Mazy
Shane Cusack

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Florence Mazy
Shane Cusack