Just over a decade ago, the Clinton administration announced its “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. The aim of it was to prevent LGBT discrimination in the military, but the policy was poorly designed and didn’t change the culture in the military. In fact, it made it seem as if being part of the LGBT community was something to be ashamed about. People were told they couldn’t talk about their own lives and their family. The United States has come a long way since then. Partners have access to healthcare, many insurance companies are including gender reassignment coverage, and Americans very loudly demanded equal marriage rights. It’s good to acknowledge these things, but at the same time, many offices are still making mistakes when it comes to creating diversity in the workplace.
Before getting into the things you probably need to fix, it’s important to address why they need to be corrected.
Remember the failed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy? It didn’t work because people can’t be expected not to talk about their lives. Moreover, it created an environment that implied being LGBT was inappropriate. Your employees should be free to talk about their orientation and their families, and it’s ok if heterosexual employees acknowledge the differences too, so long as it’s done in a respectful and/or positive way.
As part of your hiring process, you should be intentionally seeking out people who support workplace diversity. You’re cultivating an environment when you hire, so spend time finding the right employees who will back up your overall diversity goals.
Things like a zero-tolerance harassment policy are essential in creating a positive environment. Just as you should be protecting people of all races and religions, you should openly protect your LGBT employees (or future employees if you don’t already have someone on staff). Your healthcare policies matter as well. Be sure insurance plans cover same-sex partners and other things that matter.
We’re hosting a series of diversity sessions, to help you create the perfect culture fit team, increase morale, and boost productivity throughout your company. Each of our special events focuses on a unique aspect of workplace diversity, so you can make sure your company is not only compliant with the laws, but is also creating a positive and inclusive atmosphere. Join us for “Boot Camp for New Managers, Supervisors, and HR Professionals” on March 29 and “Tips & Tools for Designing, Developing, and Delivering Diversity that Hit The Mark” on April 27-28 in Washington, D.C.
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