Jayne Hart

North East businesses cultivating an inclusive workplace for LGBTQ employees

June sees month-long pride celebrations taking place worldwide, with rainbow flags flying high and community parades drumming to the beat of solidarity. The colourful and vibrant festivities throughout pride month are led by North East lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) communities. They encourage the celebration and acceptance of all sexual identities, especially those that may have been subject to prejudice or discrimination from mainstream society. Jayne Hart, Director at HR Dept Newcastle warns that whilst pride month is a wonderful and welcoming event, it also reminds us that discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender people, or those questioning their sexual identity, sadly still occurs. Such prejudice can be harmful to a person’s wellbeing and have a damaging effect on both their work and homelife. Hart explains “Pride celebrations do what they can to share the importance of diversity and inclusivity during June. But everyone can work together to ensure that acceptance is widespread and felt throughout the year”. “In the workplace, employers can protect the safety and wellbeing of LGBTQ employees by being proactive with their processes and attitudes”. Jayne Hart continues “As an employer you have a legal and ethical responsibility to protect your employees from discrimination under the Equality Act. It is therefore recommended that you have an up-to-date anti-discrimination clause in place from the moment you hire your first employee. “An anti-discrimination policy lets your employees know that unlawful discrimination against sexual orientation is forbidden. It gives you the power to properly address wrongdoing of this nature. Employees can understand that breach of this clause will result in consequences such as a disciplinary or termination of contract”. However, Hart further warns that having a policy is one thing, but it’s cultivating a diverse and inclusive workplace that can really make a difference to the day-to-day lives of your LGBTQ employees. “It is fine to accept that you will not know all the answers as to how to achieve this right away. Encourage open conversations to understand what an inclusive workplace looks like to an LGBTQ employee”. “With a safe and understanding environment at work, your employees can feel encouraged to bring various perspectives and abilities to the table. And with a ‘one for all and all for one’ mentality, your workforce can feel stronger than ever”. Hart adds “As your team grows you may want to show further support towards your LGBTQ employees by sharing relevant networking events or sponsoring an LGBTQ charity for your next company fundraiser”.

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