Consider some of these tips to create more psychological safety for LGBTQ+ team members:
- Consider what assumptions you might be making about your team memebers. A recent study by the Human Rights Campagin found that 46% of LGBTQ workers in the US are closeted at work. Don’t make the mistake of failing to be concious of your language and behavior because you assume your team is exclusively heterosexual and cisgendered.
- Choose your words carefully. When inviting team members to include their families in team building events, use significant other or partner in place of girlfriend, boyfriend, husband, or wife.
- Offer your pronouns first, and often when interviewing and on boarding.
- Check your biases about what you consider to be professional attire. 1 in 5 LGBTQ workers has been told or had it implied that they should dress more feminine or masculine.
- Address intolerant conversation any time you hear it, regardless of if it’s in a joking manner. 59% of people think it is unprofessional to talk about sexual orientation and gender identity in the workplace, a sentiment that results in many LGBTQ people “covering” these parts of themselves at work.
- Listen to reports of unfair treatment and harassment, and take them seriously. 45% of LGBTQ people agree that enforcement of the non-descrimination policy in their workplace is dependent on their supervisors personal feelings toward homosexuality.
- Be aware of the stress and gravity of the seminal moments associated with the LGBTQ community that you might experience with a team member. Coming out for the first time or starting the process of transitioning can be every bit as taxing or moreso than caring for an ailing parent, moving, etc. Handle these situations with a lot of grace for the employee.
- Most importantly, educate yourself. It’s okay if some or all of this is new territory for you. Do the work. Seek counsel or do some research on terms and aspects of the LGBTQ community that you might be unfamiliar with.
“Ally is not a noun, it’s a verb.” – Unknown
“What we do is more important than what we say, or what we say we believe.” Bell Hooks
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