Supporting LGBTIQ people in the workplace

Don’t

Make assumptions about someone’s gender identity, or sexuality.

Do

Use gender neutral language and inclusive language to open the door to all LGBTIQ
people.

Inclusive language

Use the term “partner” or “significant other” instead of “boyfriend/girlfriend”, or “husband/wife”. Ask “are you seeing someone?” or “are you in a committed relationship?” instead of “do you have a girlfriend/boyfriend?” or “are you married?”

Gender neutral language

Instead of “She is going to go to the doctor tomorrow” say “They are going to go to the doctor tomorrow” or “Sarah is going to go to the doctor tomorrow”. Provide toilets that are non gender specific. Gender specific toilets can be a particularly painful and challenging part of the workplace for people who are transitioning or do not identify with male or female gender.

Don’t

Ask invasive questions about someone’s body.

Do

Respect people’s identity.

If an individual identifies themselves as woman, then they are a woman. If they identify themselves as a man, then they are a man. To ask someone about their body or how far they have transitioned is sexual harassment. To be open to all transgender people you must be willing to accept and respect the individual’s identity. Not everyone chooses to undergo medical transition or has access to the resources needed to undergo medical transition. To require someone to undergo medical procedures to conform to a certain body type is not empowering and is not inclusive of the diversity of people that are a part of the transgender community.

Don’t

Out someone’s sexual orientation or transgender status.

Do

If you become aware of someone is experiencing homo/bi/trans* phobic bullying at
work, talk to the person before advocating on their behalf.
Outing a co worker to other staff is not empowering.
When we take away a person’s choices and make decisions for them we are
perpetuating the same use of power that the workplace bully has used against
them. Instead have a conversation with the person – ask them if they want you to
tell people they are gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer, intersex and/or trans*. If the person
does not feel safe letting people know, then do not tell anyone.

Don’t

Ignore the importance of using the right pronouns.

Do

Use the pronoun that someone asks you to use.

Accept that you may mess up. That is part of being a good ally. When you mess up
don’t make a huge deal, don’t apologise profusely. Just correct yourself, apologise,
and move on. To put a lot of energy into apologising only puts more focus on the
other person. Your focus should instead be on figuring out for yourself how not to
make the same mistake again.

Don’t

Ignore when others use incorrect pronouns.

Do

Model the correct pronoun usage.

When someone uses the wrong pronoun just continue the conversation and slip in a sentence that uses the correct pronoun.

For example, Jo uses feminine pronouns (she, her).

A worker says to you “Jo needs to use the meeting room for his appointment” You respond “Ok, I can make sure that she is booked to use the room before the meeting”.

Note: It is always a good idea to make sure that the person you are working with is out about their gender before correcting someone’s pronoun. There may be instances when an individual may choose not to be out. Someone may make this decision for safety reasons, they may be afraid it will impact on their career prospects, or because they simply don’t want to deal with explaining their gender identity to yet one more person.

Don’t

Use language like, “I am working with a woman, who is really a man”, “She says she’s a man but she is obviously a woman”, or “He is not a ‘real woman”.

Do

Respect an individual’s identity and use the terms that someone uses for themselves. Mirror a person’s language. If you are trying to create a safe and welcoming environment for transgender folks then you need to remove language like “real woman” and “real man” from your vocabulary. Respecting someone’s identity quite simply means using the language
that a person uses for themselves without judgment and mirroring their language back to them. If an individual identifies themselves as woman, then they are a woman, If an individual identifies as a man, then they are a man, fullstop.

Do

Speak up when someone makes homo/bi/trans*phobic or heterosexist remarks.

Be aware of your own biases.

Remember: If you know one LGBTIQ person, you know one LGBTIQ person – Treat people as individuals and don’t expect a single person to represent an entire community.

Remember members of LGBTIQ community are not experts on all other groups within this community.

Do

Remember it is unlawful to discriminate against employees because of sex or gender identity, therefore workers should be able to transition socially and/or medically at work. Choosing when and if to transition is up to the trans* worker with support from family, friends and health professionals; the employer’s role is to enable trans* workers to have the same employment rights as others during this process.

Do

If you are managing someone who is transitioning at work sit down and support
them with being:

  • known by their new name;
  • referred to by new pronouns;
  • able to adopt a workplace dress code matching their gender identity;
  • able to use facilities such as toilets and changing rooms matching their gender identity; and
  • able to take time off work for medical treatment relating to their transition, if necessary.

It is important that the employer sets a good example to other employees and
is supportive and reassuring during the employee’s transition. This will help the
employee to carry on with their job as usual.

Do

Make explaining your workplace’s LGBTIQ networks and policies part of induction and ongoing discussion. The way to beat invisibility is to be part of visibility!

Do

Work to develop a culture where straight allies are also supported and acknowledged for making workplaces more inclusive for LGBTIQ. Encourage your workmates to think about how they can build more inclusive services and culture in their own areas.

Click for larger versionHow to respond when someone isn't inclusive

 

Download Dos and Don’ts of upporting LGBTIQ people in the workplace (PDF)