Are you guilty of this LGBTQ faux pas?

by Emily Douglas24 May 2018

In today’s age, nothing is sacred, meaning employers need to watch their backs when it comes to safeguarding their brands. 

Diversity and inclusivity is more important now than ever before. By showcasing an authentic dedication to supporting employees of all genders, races and sexualities, organizations can raise themselves about their competition in the war for talent – the key word being authentic.

We spoke to Michael Bach, founder and CEO of The Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion (CCDI), who explained how your employer brand can be made or destroyed by your approach to diversity.

“In terms of the brand, it’s all about how people perceive your organization,” he told us. “Not only in regards to potential talent, but also potential customers.

“From a talent perspective, people want to know that they’re working for an organization where they’ll be treated with respect and value. Inclusivity plays a significant role in that, not only with LGBTQ folk but with any other underrepresented group. Candidates will look for signs that show the company’s a safe space – somewhere they’ll be valued and respected.”

One aspect Bach stressed was that these efforts were completely pointless, unless they were carried out with the utmost legitimacy – otherwise, companies may as well not bother.

“It has to be authentic – it has to be part of the DNA of the organization,” added Bach. “It cannot be something you come through via a marketing exercise. It has to be real, because if it’s not people will find out and it’ll backfire in a very big way.

“I get the need for marketing within specific communities, but at the same time if it’s just putting lipstick on a pig it does more damage than good.”

In that vein, one of the simplest and most effective ways of showing your dedication to diversity is through your use of language.

“Gender pronouns are a very current example as a need for prioritizing inclusivity,” continued Bach. “It’s just respectful. Ask yourself, do you use the term ‘maternity leave’ or ‘parental leave’? When you go through a policy that names ‘he/she’, wouldn’t it be just as easy to say ‘they/them’?

“For a person who is gender non-conforming, being able to see themselves in an organization is quite difficult when everywhere they turn, there are gender specific pronouns.

“When I started at a previous employer, there was no mention of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression anyway in any document. The assumption was that it was assumed. That wasn’t a safe assumption at all. I didn’t know if the organization was as safe place for me to come out as gay. It took me a while to get to that point. So being explicit in a language is critically important.”

 

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