The Equality Act is a relic piece of enactment that would expand federal civil rights laws to protect LGBTQ persons. The objective is to protect LGBTQ from discrimination in public places, including employment, housing, credit, jury service, and federally funded programs such as health and education public places and spaces.
The Center for American Progress’ nationally representative survey 2020 showed that 1 in 3 LGBTQ Americans, including 3 out of 5 transgender Americans, experienced discrimination in the past year. Moreover, evidence shows that discrimination has adverse effects on physical and mental health and basic economic security.
What is LGBTQ Equity in Recruitment?
The US Supreme Court in Bostock v. ruled in Clayton County that it’s illegal under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act for an employer to not hire, fire, or otherwise discriminate against individuals due to sexual orientation or gender identity (SOGI). The Equality Act will ensure that this interpretation is codified in the country’s civil rights laws, and existing sex discrimination protections prohibit discrimination based on SOGI.
With over 5.5 million LGBTQ individuals living in the US, it’s essential to recognize our progress in furthering equality efforts and the barriers LGBTQ people still face in fair and equal access to employment, housing, healthcare, and public accommodation.
To attract top talent (regardless of sexual identity or gender) and to be on the right side of history, it is imperative that recruiters and hiring managers take deliberate measures to advocate for LGBTQ equality. Ensuring that gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer job seekers feel secure and are willing to apply to a company is not a complicated undertaking. Here are some steps human resources managers (or anyone else) can take to promote LGBTQ equality in their hiring process.
1. State Value of Equity on your Website or Mission Statement
Part of creating a more inclusive workplace is hiring more diverse employees. Businesses can begin to build a welcoming reputation through their corporate mission statement, company values, and the languages and images used on their digital platforms, such as their site and social media. An organization that actively supports LGBTQ causes, partners with LGBTQ organizations will undoubtedly appeal to a more diverse group of candidates.
2. Enforce and Set Policies
The next step in having an LGBTQ-friendly workplace is to establish specific policies that outline your company’s position on LGBTQ rights.
If you don’t have any of these policies, you are behind the times. According to Catalyst, 91% of Fortune 500 companies now have nondiscrimination policies, including sexual orientation, and 83% include gender identity.
But having a policy in itself is not enough. You also need to make sure you are very clear about what is and isn’t acceptable behavior in your company and establish procedures for dealing with people who violate your policies. You must then follow those procedures, ensuring that any allegations of discrimination or harassment are taken very seriously.
Also, look at your company policies and make sure you haven’t inadvertently excluded the ones you use. You also need to consider changing your employee benefits to accommodate LGBTQ employees and their families.
Benefits of Adopting LGBTQ-Supportive Policies
Research from the Williams Institute has found several benefits to adopting LGBTQ inclusive policies in the workplace. And such benefits range from the individual to the organizational level. Some of the benefits include:
- A decrease in workplace discrimination and increased openness about being LGBTQ make people feel more comfortable coming out and being out at work.
- Supportive Policies improve health and well-being because policies that are not LGBTQ-supportive can take a psychological toll and negatively affect employees’ well-being. LGBTQ-supportive policies make employees happy both in and out of work, positively impacting team morale, productivity, and employee turnover.
- Changes in healthcare costs may increase due to the expansion of benefits to same-sex partners of LGBTQ candidates but will ultimately be offset by improvements in overall employee welfare promoted by pro-LGBTQ policies.
- LGBTQ Supportive policies lower legal costs associated with discrimination. Adopting LGBTQ-supportive policies helps keep the company in line with state and federal policies and makes it less likely that employers will face costly compliance lawsuits.
3. Clarify that your Company Knows what Queerness is—and shows it
If you allow people to be who they are and don’t shy away from expressing it in your company’s language and visuals, then that’s inclusion.
Start with your marketing assets: What’s the tone of voice? What imagery are you using? Make sure people see that your employees have faces like theirs—whether it’s people of color or queer, trans, or non-binary people in appearance. If someone can look at your website or social media feeds and think, ‘Oh, there’s no one like me,’ then that’s a problem for you.
4. Perform your Market Research
To better understand the unique needs and concerns of the LGBTQ community, you need to establish positive factors that will welcome an LGBTQ person and eliminate negative factors that will deter them. A great way to do this is by setting up internal polls and surveys to understand more about your company’s current environment regarding equality, diversity, and discrimination.
Then look at your findings with the diversity strategy of your direct competitors and compare what you are up against. Finally, reflect on what you think is good and what is not.
5. Create LGBTQ Employee Resource Group
Creating an LGBTQ Employee Resource Group is an efficient strategy for supporting LGBTQ employees and allowing them to feel a sense of belonging. In addition, ERGs (Employee Resource Groups) are an excellent way for employees who share similar interests and backgrounds to form bonds based on their group membership.
Research indicates that employees are less afraid to share their LGBTQ group membership when their workplace is supportive. One way organizations can show their allowance for this community is through ERG groups.
The Equality Act would meaningfully expand civil rights protections for many Americans and advance equal treatment for LGBTQ people, women, people of faith, and people of color. Concrete benefits of the historic civil rights laws that it would amend are clear – it is time to extend these benefits equally to all.
Companies should first and foremost be hiring based on attitude, experience, education, and skills and should not seek to “tokenize” LGBTQ employees just for optics.