The importance of accommodating LGBTQ+ individuals in your business

Leeann Nash November 22nd 2022 - 3 minute read

Around 11% of people globally identifying as LGBTQ+, so taking steps to accommodate anyone who falls under this umbrella should be a given.

While strides have been made in some countries to be more accepting to people of different sexualities and genders, there’s still room for improvement. There’s a high chance that many of your employees who aren’t heterosexual or cisgender have suffered prejudice, either at the workplace or in their day-to-day lives.

The fact is that diverse organisations outperform less-diverse competitors in revenue, profits and employee satisfaction. Therefore, accommodating for this diversity is highly important. Let’s go into further detail, focusing on how you can improve employee comfort and happiness, as well as give your business a competitive advantage.

How employee comfort can help your business

Part of the importance of accommodating LGBTQ+ employees is that the basic, everyday comforts and needs of your employees are vital. Comfortable employees are much happier, more loyal and more productive, which leads to improvements in your business.

As LGBTQ+ individuals are more likely to experience mental health difficulties, as well as discrimination in and out of the workplace, being accommodating of them is particularly important. It can help people feel as if they have a space to be themselves.

Surveys suggest that nearly half of all LGBTQ+ individuals choose to remain closeted at work, and the stress can severely impact their happiness, productivity and work relations. By creating an atmosphere where your employees feel comfortable to be themselves, you can help boost their wellbeing and professional performance.

Furthermore, an inclusive work culture benefits every employee by focusing on the worth of the individual worker. By aiming to accommodate for a diverse range of people, your business will allow all employees to feel welcomed and championed. You’ll foster an improved, supportive atmosphere for everyone by way of the curb-cut effect, boosting productivity across the board.

Advantageous accommodations

Accommodating for LGBTQ+ individuals runs in tandem with accommodating for diverse employees, and research has shown that a diverse workforce can lead to consistent competitive advantages.

For instance, diversity yields a greater range of viewpoints and approaches to problems, meaning that a team would be better able to escape groupthink. With different backgrounds come different perspectives, which are invaluable to the operation of a business.

A creative team, for instance, comprised of a diverse set of individuals across sexualities, gender identities, ethnicities, and other characteristics, would likely be more able to think outside the box when tackling a project. They’d bring in a wider perspective of what different people want and look for, which may not be possible from a non-diverse workforce.

Research undertaken by Carmit Tadmor, a senior lecturer at the Coller School of Management, showed that bicultural people – such as expats – who were able to identify with both their native and adoptive cultures showed enhanced creative skills. These individuals had elevated levels of integrative complexity – the ability to consider and combine multiple perspectives.

Having a work culture where differences are accepted and celebrated can boost integrative complexity among your workforce. Accommodating for LGBTQ+ employees allows these individuals to contribute their own experiences and cultural persuasions, which do differ from heteronormative culture. Your team will benefit from a wider perspective, which can be a significant boon to your business.

One such boon is increased market share. Research from Sylvia Ann Hewlett, Melinda Marshall and Laura Sherbin published in the Harvard Business Review found that: ‘Employees at [diverse] companies are 45% likelier to report that their firm’s market share grew over the previous year and 70% likelier to report that the firm captured a new market.’

With a variety of different perspectives and personal qualities to draw from, your team can identify new opportunities that might otherwise be missed.

How to accommodate LGBTQ+ individuals

Accommodating for LGBTQ+ individuals can be simple: it doesn’t require substantial organisational changes, and just a few small steps can begin building a positive, inclusive environment.

One suggestion is to encourage employees to display pronouns in email signatures. This way, you signal that you’re not going to assume gender or discriminate, and you start to normalise the sharing of pronouns.

Neutral language in training documents can be supportive too, as can displaying pride flags around the workplace. And you may also want to highlight that any accessible toilets in the office space are accessible to everyone, and mention this to new starters and visitors.

These small changes go a long way. But if you want to take things further, consider supporting LGBTQ+ initiatives and groups within the community. By creating an outreach, you can become more acquainted with what can help and show leadership in championing diversity.

But above all else, listen. Be open minded and be open to making mistakes. As long as you encourage staff to try and learn, inclusivity will happen.

Accommodating for LGBTQ+ people is hugely important in business. With the likely increase in productivity and employee satisfaction, the accommodations will enable your business to rise above competitors.

Between the diverse perspectives, the new ways of thinking and the boon of a welcoming, inclusive office, accommodating for LGBTQ+ employees can bring a positive impact for every member of your team.

Written by
Leeann Nash

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