Creating a 2SLGBTQIA+ Inclusive Workplace
The 2SLGBTQIA+ community in Canada faces substantial barriers to employment and advancement in the workplace. A recent report by Statistics Canada found that LGBTQ2+ Canadians may have experienced more economic hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic than non-LGBTQ people. Those who are in the 15 to 24 age bracket experienced the largest number of job losses than any other group during the pandemic. As well, 89% of trans people have at least some college or university education, however, only about half make $30,000 CAD per year or less.
It’s very important for companies to invest the time and effort necessary to create workplaces that are inclusive and celebrates all employees regardless of their gender and/or sexual orientation. Here are ways your organization can create a workplace environment that is inclusive to the 2SLGBTQIA+ community.
- Use gender neutral language. Avoid using gender specific language, such as “he/him”, “she/her”, “guys”, or “ladies”, in handbook policies or when addressing individuals whose genders are unknown. Instead, “they” can be used as an acceptable gender-neutral pronoun, in addition to other inclusive terms such as “folks”, “team”, “everybody” and “everyone”.
- Ensure your businesses’ policies, practices and procedures are not discriminatory based on gender and/or sexual orientation. Review your company’s policies (e.g., dress-code, Bereavement Leave, Parental Leave, Group Benefits, etc.) to ensure that employees receive fair treatment and entitlements regardless of gender and/or sexual orientation. Companies should opt for Group Benefits providers that offer inclusive and fair coverage. Companies should also provide gender-neutral washrooms (if possible) to prevent employees from being forced to disclose their gender, face uncomfortable comments or questions, and be subject to harassment or violence when accessing the washroom.
- Establish a committee and support employee resource groups. 2SLGBTQIA+ committees and employee resource groups (ERGs) that have clear goals, responsibilities, and support from Senior Leadership can serve as a valuable educational resource and support system for employees. Participation in these committees or groups should be voluntary and include both 2SLGBTQIA+ community members and allies in order to prevent participants from being forced to ‘out’ themselves.
- Invest in employee training and education. Diversity and inclusion training focused on educating employees about important 2SLGBTQIA+ topics can help foster an environment of understanding and respect. Company-wide training should include a review of your company’s discrimination and harassment policies, education on the use of respectful (vs. harmful) language, and details on how your Company will support an employee who has experienced and/or witnessed discrimination in the workplace.
- Incorporate 2SLGBTQIA+ initiatives into your CSR commitment. Companies can show increased support for the 2SLGBTQIA+ community by supporting non-profit organizations and charities that focus on addressing societal issues and roadblocks faced by members of this community.
Employers should continue to show their commitment to ensuring their workplace is inclusive to the 2SLGBTQIA+ community all year round, not just for pride month. For a list of organizations across Canada that focus on supporting the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, click here. For additional support and guidance with the development of workplace programs and policies that are inclusive to those in the this community, please reach out to us by clicking here.