While Australia has been making positive strides to support LGBTQI+ communities in recent years, there is still a significant amount of work to be done to achieve true diversity and inclusion, especially in workplaces across the country.
SEEK recently released their P.R.I.D.E Report which highlighted the very real need to address diversity and inclusion issues for LGBTQI+ communities within Australian workplaces.
We caught up with Jason Tuazon-McCheyne, CEO of Australian LGBTQI+ charity The Equality Project, to get his advice for employers on how to combat discrimination in the workplace—as well as tips for everyone to be a better ally at work.
Create A Clear Code of Conduct
Set clear expectations with your employees around treating others fairly and with respect, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation. This might come in the form of a written code of conduct and be reinforced by visual cues around the workplace. You can find a code of conduct template right here.
Be Aware Of Your Language
It’s important to update your employee and customer forms and signage to include gender-neutral language. Not sure how or where to start? The Equality project has this super helpful guide on inclusive language to better understand why this language matters, and how you can start to use it. For instance, avoid language that assumes all people are women or men. Consider using "everyone", or "team, family, friends, folks" or informally "peeps", instead of "ladies and gentlemen", "boys and girls".
And finally, encourage employees to add their pronouns to their email signatures as a simple and respectful way to affirm other people’s gender identities, and acknowledge transgender, gender diverse and non-binary people.
Hold A Virtual Or In Person Training Session
Running an LGBTQI+ awareness training session for employees either in person or via Zoom is a great way to ensure everyone is on the same page. The Equality Project has helpful resources here to introduce your team to LGBTQI+ communities, and provide foundational understanding of how each team member can create a welcoming environment for employees and customers alike. For in-depth training, you can also check out The Equality Project’s virtual workshops.
Create Visual Cues
If you’re working remotely, including everyone’s pronouns on zoom meetings and in email signatures is a simple way to acknowledge and respect gender identities. Another action is during key LGBTQI+ calendar events, like Wear It Purple Day, change your zoom background, and encourage staff to dress in purple to stand in solidarity with your LGBTQI+ colleagues. If you’re working in a physical office at the moment, display LGBTQI+-friendly signage, such as “everyone is welcome here” signs or a small rainbow flag at the front desk. This can help to show LGBTQI+ customers and employees that the workplace or business is an inclusive and safe space.
Host A Virtual LGBTQI+ Lunch & Learns
It’s great to celebrate IDAHOBIT (International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia held on 17 May) and other key local and international LGBTQI+ events in the workplace (eg Mardi Gras in Sydney, Pride Fair Days and festivals in other States and Midsumma in Melbourne).
If you’re in a physical office, you could have a rainbow morning tea fundraiser and donate the proceeds to a local LGBTQI+ charity. If you’re working remotely, you could invite a guest speaker to do a talk over Zoom. Or it could even be a simple catch-up over a virtual coffee, to create a space where people who are part of LGBTQI+ communities—employees and customers—can talk about what they need to support them, and collaboratively explore issues and solutions.
Update Your Policies
Ensure that your HR policies, family and all other staff benefits apply equally to LGBTQI+ employees and their families. Treat all employees equally when it comes to parental or adoption leave. For example, parental leave provisions should be updated to include employees with same-sex partners, and ‘maternity’ leave should be changed to ‘parental’ leave to be more inclusive.
Next up, check out these tips on how you can be a better trans ally.
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