Bill C-4 conversion therapy ban: What does this mean for HR & LGBTQ?

What practices can fulsomely promote true and authentic belonging in the workplace?

Bill C-4 conversion therapy ban: What does this mean for HR & LGBTQ?

Earlier this month, the House of Commons moved to pass Bill C-4 – a legislation that ultimately bans controversial conversion therapy. After years of campaigning, LGBTQ and human rights groups celebrated the news, lauding the policy that makes it illegal to perform or undergo treatment. Speaking to CTV News, Gemma Hickey, an LGBTQ rights advocate, expressed their own happiness at the move.

“I'm feeling so overjoyed today,” they told the news outlet. “I can't believe I lived to see this day, literally. After undergoing conversion therapy when I was 15 years old, I tried to take my own life. And so, I survived my suicide attempt and here I am to see this day. I can't tell you how happy I am right now.”

Canada has long been known as a diverse nation – one that celebrates gender, race, sexuality, and religion equally. For employers and HR leaders, this backing from the government only reaffirms the necessity for all workplaces to be as inclusive and psychologically safe as possible. HRD spoke to Dr Raeleen Manjak, chief people officer at the City of Vernon, who explained the importance of the bill – and revealed the wide-reaching impact it will have on Canadian workplaces.

“Diversity, inclusivity, and belonging - powerful words,” prefaced Dr Manjak. “As an HR leader, what considerations and practices can fulsomely promote a true and authentic belonging in the workplace?

“Gender is a key component of many systems in our business world, whether they are intentional or subconscious. Oftentimes, the practices are part of an age-old way of doing things are deeply ingrained and go unquestioned. Despite a growing global awareness around the challenges and struggles that LGBTQ people face, many employers remain ill-equipped to create workplace cultures that support trans employees.”

And this support is more important now than ever. According to a recent survey from Safety in Public, LGBTQ employees were more likely to report being victimized in their lifetime – with hate crimes up 41% from 2019. Sexual minority Canadians are also more likely to have contemplated suicide in their lives compared to their heterosexual counterparts. In the face of such data, it’s clear that - while HR leaders are helping in some way – much more needs to be done. And quickly.

“Now, more than ever I would offer that any sector that wishes to realize the full potential of their employee groups are called to action to create safe and inclusive workplaces,” added Dr Manjak. “This approach can assist in the framework for competitive advantage, including the attraction and retention of employees, new customer groups, and the adoption of innovative and creative approaches that will differentiate their business from others that continue to do things the way that they have always been done.”

7 steps for a diverse workplace

There’s several ways that you can promote authentic DEI in your workplace – and it doesn’t necessarily mean investing thousands of dollars in outlandish strategies. All it takes it listening, flexing, and reacting to your employees’ wants and needs.

  1. Emphasize the business case for diversity and inclusivity
  2. Recognize bias
  3. Practice and role model an inclusivity leadership perspective
  4. Develop formalized mentorship programs
  5. Adopt inclusivity practices (restroom access, dress codes, data collection, pronoun and name usage)
  6. Develop trans-specific diversity training
  7. Hold leaders accountable

“HR leaders have an opportunity to create foundational change in the workplace and to intentionally address the undertow of all that hinders employees from being authentic in the workplace,” added Dr Manjak. “The includes the ability to release opportunities for all talent, and in the process create innovative, creative workplaces that promote equity and a better world.”

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