How inclusion happens at work

“Inclusion means attention to the whole workplace culture, not just individualised ‘cases’”

In the past few years there has been a move away from the term ‘tolerance’ when talking about the rights and needs of LGBTI workers in favour of talking about ‘inclusion’. This is because implicit in the term tolerance is the idea of enduring or tolerating some ‘other’ that one would not necessarily chose to, it can also be seen as more attitudinal than action; inclusion on the other hand is about action and about the process by which we behave and treat others in our environment. Inclusion is ‘the degree to which an employee perceives that he or she is an esteemed member of the workgroup through experiencing treatment that satisfies their need for belongingness and uniqueness’.

LGBTI are often ‘invisible minorities who differ from the majority on dimensions that are not always apparent, inclusion relies on much more than policies to protect rights, it is an organisational culture and programme where LGBTI can achieve their full professional potential. Organisations and teams that truly embrace diversity and inclusion (of all minority groups) have been found to have a wide range of benefits including ability to generate more innovative solutions, lower staff turnover, more engaged workforce and appealing to a wider pool of candidates for recruitment.

The below diagram is the ways in which inclusion can be initiated in workplaces; consider it an antidote to the ‘How discrimination happens’ handout!

red-arrowEqual opportunity/diversity policies need to

  • be known – communicate policies and programmes internally and
    externally
  • include ‘clear and institutionalised ways of implementing policy’
  • be enforced by managers/HR

arrow2Managers and HR need to

  • be leaders in creating inclusive workplace environments
  • understand the benefits of diversity
  • being quick and proactive to sanction bi/trans*/homophobia
  • support LGBTIQ events and networks with time and resources
  • support physical changes to environment eg gender neutral toilets
  • prioritise the building of knowledge and on how to support LGBTIQ and action solutions
  • be proactive not reactive

arrow3Diversity training needs to

  • dispel myths and stereotypes
  • raise awareness of the issues faced by LGBTIQ
  • provide personal stories and different sources of information to  help employees recognise how to bring inclusion to life. (Siva 2009)
  • provide people with the language and tools to be inclusive
  • start positive dialogue on inclusive workplaces

arrow4Organisations need to

  • help LGBTIQ groups form, be sustained and find mentors
  • make inclusive language an organisational goal
  • consider process of engagment to social networking opportunities for LGBTIQ employees
  • ways of including LGBTIQ in diversity metrics, ‘processes in place for tracking career advancement of diverse employee groups’ (Silva 2009)
  • make knowledge of resources and groups for LGBTIQ part of induction

arrow5Individuals need to

  • develop self-awareness and remain open to education and
    information
  • learn and use the correct pronoun for transgender and transsexual
    employees
  • demonstrate your acceptance of LGBTIQ individuals in public and
    visible ways
  • participate in LGBTIQ activities as an ally
  • never make homo/bi/transphobic jokes (Silva 2009 www.hci.org/files/field_slides)

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