Sometimes, it's easy to forget how far employers and organizations have come in the fight for equality and inclusivity at work
Sometimes, it’s easy to forget how far employers and organizations have come in the fight for equality and inclusivity at work. And yet – in regards to LGBTQ – we still have a way to go.
We spoke to Michael Bach, founder and CEO of The Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion (CCDI), who revealed how his own personal experiences reflect the journey of LGBTQ workers as a whole.
“I worked in the US for a long time and during that time I worked in several states where I could have been fired for being gay,” he explained. “There are several places, or where back then in 2004, in which I would have been fired for any reason, but my sexual orientation could have been a big one.
“I’ve lived in fear in companies about coming out because I was afraid that people would discriminate against me, and I could lose my job as a consequence. That’s a real fear. That’s a fear you see today. We recently conducted a study with an employer and one of the LGBTQ issues we uncovered was a group of trans people within the company – none of which are out in the workplace as being trans. Some the comments came back to say it was because they were afraid for their safety.
“You think about that in this day and age, that’s what people have to deal with – it’s pretty scary.”
So, how can employers help LGBTQ employees feel more connected and safe in their organizations?
“I don’t think there’s really one thing employers can do – here’s a whole lot of ways they can help,” added Bach.
“Take a look at your policies and procedures to ensure they’re inclusive and clear on what happens if any employees come up against discriminatory action. Organizations need a zero-tolerance policy. Make sure there’s a clear process when a complaint is filed.
“It’s also essential that you educate employees on what is an individual’s role on create an inclusive workplace, this could be opening up dialogues around what is and is not acceptable.”
Bach explained how the process needs to be constant. You can’t simply implement a procedure and then leave it alone – employers need to review policies all the time, keeping them up to date and alive.
“You need to constantly work at this,” he reminded us. “It’s the only way to ensure you have a truly inclusive workplace.”
To learn more about how you can really showcase your commitment to inclusivity and diversity – and avoid any potential pitfalls, be sure to sign up to HRD Canada’s upcoming webinar with Michael Bach.