The workplace is like a microcosm of society at large. A cross-section of individuals reflecting the hierarchical opinions and attitudes that swirl around in the world outside, and sadly this means for many within the LGBTQIA+ communities that they face the same bias and exclusion within the workplace as they do outside of it. Therefore, it is an employer’s responsibility to proactively take control of their environment, to ensure it is an inclusive, diverse and comfortable place to be.
Study after study show clear results that a happy employee is a productive employee, and a productive employee creates a harmonious work environment, and harmony and productivity strengthen a business both financially and structurally.
It’s Pride month and we wanted to dig in, understand what our candidates and clients were thinking, and make sure that every month stays Pride month, so we asked some of our candidates, clients and friends from the LGBTQIA+ community – from Chief of Staff and Management to security personnel, for their feedback on a few questions relating to their experience whilst looking for work. The answers come from a variety of individuals who were kind enough to share their thoughts and experiences.
What kind of support would you appreciate from prospective employers when it comes to the interview process?
Having a potential employer state in their pre-interview correspondence (usually email) their diversity policies and making a point to say that they consider diversity an important part of their business is always a nice/comforting thing to experience. And, …..having them state ‘please let us know which pronouns and names you wish for us to use should they be different from any of our previous correspondence’ would be a hugely comforting thing to do.
When applying for a job, do you find that the application forms are fully inclusive for you as an individual? If not, please share what can be changed.
When it comes to the ‘gender’ box, I prefer using a box marked ‘self-described’, where I would then say ‘I live and work between both traditional genders’. Not every application form offers this however, in which I just use ‘choose not to disclose or similar’.
Are there any dos/don’ts when a newly introduced person is asking about your preferred pronouns/name?
I think as long as it’s asked in a sensitive but straightforward way, then all good. For example ‘Which pronouns would you like me to use when referring to you’? is perfectly ok.
Does your job search take place outside of the standard job portals/pages we are all familiar with, somewhere specific that you go to find jobs that are specifically LGBTQIA+ friendly?
Social media, certain platforms that filter applications that are specifically skewed towards different identity markers. Instagram is really good for that, there are pages that are dedicated to that….exists on Twitter as well and then also word of mouth.
Have you ever been asked for feedback from prospective employers on what your experience looking for work has been like?
We received a unanimous no to this question.
What could you advise an employer/recruiter on to make you feel respected and truly included?
Reference diversity and inclusion and state clearly that this is a safe space for LGBTQIA applicants. That would be a good start and would make most people feel much more included and respected than they otherwise would.
In terms of signs of inclusivity, what do you look for in a new company when you’re considering joining?
Their commitment to sustainability, their marketing and how they brand themselves, the imagery that they use, their visuals, i.e the identities and people that I see in their images. Seeing how many people of colour, or queer people, or other marginalised identities are in leadership or management positions. It’s also an energetic thing when I’m speaking to people – I’m gauging are they good listeners, active listening is the core of inclusivity…The moment I walk into a building, how am I welcomed, how am I received, what the culture of the company is, how do people relate with each other within the company. What kind of programmes that they have in place, wellbeing, any consideration for different identities…or what support do they have for new parents, new carers….are there considerations for different lived experiences….if I can see a company that is widening their outlook on how to accommodate their workplace for different identities, welcoming and celebrating these identities, … if not then it’s a red flag.
Here at UMBRA we wanted to look at ways that we can show our continued support for our LGBTQIA+ candidates, so with the feedback that we received, we spoke with our software partners Insightly to discuss what their approach to ensuring a fully inclusive range of identity options was. We wanted to make sure our candidates have their details stored and their job searches optimised, so that we are enabling all those who work with us to have equal opportunity in line with our EDI (Equality, Diversity & Inclusion) policy. For those interested in what such a policy looks like, you can have a read here.
Chip House when you were creating Insightly what discussions and considerations did you have to make sure you were inclusive, and what changes or adaptions have you recently made or are in the process of implementing in relation to inclusivity?
“As a company, we are celebrating Pride Month with a range of programming, informational resources, and activities. For instance, a guest speaker and a Pride trivia event were held, in addition to providing resources and promoting use of gender-neutral language. We also amplified the voices of the LGBTQIA+ community in a blog post.”
“Thousands of companies around the world use Insightly to operate every day. We purposefully make Insightly a system that is easily customisable and can integrate with other systems so that when customers want to adapt their systems to new ways of doing business, it’s simple and doesn’t require a costly integrator or consultant. Creating new fields, updating existing ones to provide more options and respond to changing needs in your customer base…these are all possible with an open, flexible system like Insightly.”
Understanding that the options offered within our CRM systems are supportive to our candidates and providing our internal team with an awareness and transparency to better support our candidates and clients is a small starting point. Diversity and inclusivity aren’t achieved overnight, but researching and educating ourselves and our company, putting the correct policies in place, having open conversations with new candidates and existing employees, as well as having discussions with our suppliers, are a few of the basics to then build on.
Having intentional conversations and actively listening and including the LGBTQIA+ community in our journey is an important way of creating understanding and connection. Not acknowledging or being silent on the matter of allyship is a misplaced display of support. This often comes from the fear of not wanting to cause offence, however, it then closes the opportunity for an open space for dialogue and expression, and the erasure of the LGBTQIA+ experience within the workplace. With this in mind, we have encouraged the use of including our own pronouns within our email signatures to encourage a normalisation and support in stating them.
Growth and development are a continuous journey, and as we pride ourselves on finding the best, most trusted teams for our private clients, we have made a commitment alongside our EDI policy to annually review our policies and processes to ensure that we are truly being inclusive. Part of the way we will be doing this is through educational workshops, exploring more comprehensively how we can as a company educate ourselves thoroughly and implement further practices that show our support.
- Show your support for Pride ALL year-round, state your intentions and how you show your support, making inclusivity part of your brand.
- Review company culture. Provide training and put in place comprehensive and transparent policies and follow through with necessary changes.
- Use gender-neutral language in recruitment
- Ask for honest feedback from candidates on their experience and include your own staff in this too. Make this a safe space for communication, including potentially negative responses.
- Broaden your standard recruitment search to find a more diverse talent pool. Advertise on specific LGBTQIA+ job boards/social media pages.
- Make it clear in the job description that all gender identities and sexual orientations are welcome to the position.
With thanks to our contributors; Chris Cook, Tom/Sophie, Seda Yildiz and Chip House.
Written by Kim Garrett