While much progress has been made to include and celebrate LGBTQIA+ folks in the tech industry over the years, there is still work to be done. Whether it be in the conversations employees have with one another or the benefits a company provides, covert and overt discrimination and bias continue to impede equity for LGBTQIA+ employees.
In a recent study, McKinsey found that 76 percent of LGBTQIA+ men and 82 percent of LGBTQIA+ women have experienced microaggressions at work. Building a culture of belonging at your company and ensuring all team members have equitable experiences will only improve your business, since innovation is fueled by the exchange of diverse perspectives.
About the On-Demand Webinar
In our June webinar Built In’s VP, Creative Director and executive sponsor of Built Out (our LGBTQIA+ ERG), Aaron Pecoraro, chatted with 3 panelists about how best to build a culture of belonging at your organization and the changes that you can make to be a fully inclusive employer.
Anthony Sis, Manager, Internal & DEI Communications at Addison Group, Melina López, Product & Inclusion Marketing Manager at Google, and Ryan Martinez, Head of Workplace Inclusion & Belonging at Point32Health shared their experiences and expertise on our panel and below is a recap of the major takeaways from the webinar. If you’d like to hear even more from our incredible panelists, we suggest you check out the full recording here.
Equitable Policies and Benefits
Not all companies take into account how their health and time-off benefits and policies affect people who may not fit into the “standard” language that has always been used. LGBTQIA+ people may require extra assistance and accommodations with adoption and parental leave, or may feel unsafe because of the lack of universal anti-discrimination policies at their company. López tells a personal story about needing to take several days off to be a caregiver for a friend, and how that is not always understood at work since often people tend to recognize caregiving and bereavement to take place only with direct blood relatives.
Martinez adds that managers need to be understanding when problems arise for their employees, and believe in their direct reports when they need time off for any reason. Not questioning the details or needing proof makes employees feel much more comfortable in their work environment knowing they are supported.
On the topic of coming out at work, Sis really drives home the idea of “safety first”. LGBTQIA+ individuals have to assess their work environment and the people they work closely with to understand what the situation will be like if they are open about who they are. Martinez suggests making the conversations as casual and normal as possible. In the moment, during a conversation, mentioning a same-sex partner can make things less like a big coming out and instead just a casual mention of one’s partner.
Sis later brings up a story of when first starting in a past role their new manager emailed them before their first day to ask if they feel comfortable announcing their preferred pronouns of They/Them to the team or if they wanted their manager to do it, and if they should share some educational resources with the team. This is a question that seems small, but can go such a long way for a new employee and the relationship with a manager.
Many companies get flak for not doing enough during Pride month to truly make a difference for their employees and the world. López mentions, as a marketer, she is extremely aware of the marketing materials companies display during June and she hopes that teams are putting LGBTQIA+ people both “in front of and behind the camera”. Hiring LGBTQIA+ people who might not get as must opportunity as straight or cis people is extremely important in walking the walk for organizations. Sis adds that intentionally partnering with LGBTQIA+ organizations throughout the whole year and hiring from LGBTQIA+ job fairs/boards are really requirements for companies in this day and age.
Although much progress has been made, there are still a lot of things that fall through the cracks when it comes to LGBTQIA+ inclusion in the workplace. The first step to making real change within your organization is really listening to your employees, and then taking action to create a welcoming and inclusive workplace.