16 February 2021

How can HR create an LGBTQ+ inclusive workplace?

Ciphr’s people manager, Elliott Gill, shares some of the ways HR can start to make a change for LGBTQ+ employees


Maryam Munir

Maryam Munir

Maryam Munir worked as a content marketing writer at Ciphr from 2019 to 2021, specialising in topics related to HR systems, recruitment, payroll software, and learning and development.


Diversity and inclusion Employee engagement


Ciphr’s people manager, Elliott Gill, shares some of the ways HR can start to make a change for LGBTQ+ employees

How are LGBTQ+ employees treated in the workplace? A recent survey by the CIPD has found that two in five LGBTQ+ employees and more than half of trans workers experienced conflict in the workplace over the last 12 months, compared to just three in 10 heterosexual and cisgender employees. The survey also found 16% of LGB+ workers and 18% of trans employees also felt psychologically unsafe in the workplace, compared with just 10% of heterosexual workers.

As part of LGBTQ+ history month – which takes place every February and was organised as part of a Schools Out UK project – young people are taught about the issues that members of the LGBT+ community face. In order to create safe and inclusive workplaces for LGBTQ+ employees, HR teams also need to educate their employees on these issues.

Here, we share three ways that HR can begin to create an inclusive environment for LGBTQ+ employees.

1. Seek out experts

If you feel that your HR team doesn’t know enough to educate employees on LGBTQ+ history, Elliott Gill, Ciphr’s people manager, says you should not be afraid to turn to experts and rely on their knowledge.

“Employees need to be educated on LGBTQ+ history, but the best way for HR to do so is to use experts and people who are knowledgeable in that field.”

By bringing in LGBTQ+ activists and educators to share LGBTQ+ history knowledge, HR can join employees and also gain knowledge – this knowledge can then be shared with other employees in the future and can show them that you are proactive in understanding all employees.

2. Create an accepting and open workplace culture

“How open, accepting and inclusive is the senior management team towards differences in people’s backgrounds?” Gill says HR need to first ask themselves, and senior management teams, this question to create an inclusive environment for LGBTQ+ employees.

“You should make sure the culture really is accepting of everyone before you introduce any employee resource programmes (ERP) and before you say that you’re an inclusive workplace.

“You want to make sure that employees are comfortable to say that they are part of the LGBTQ+ community, or that they fall within that group, without having to be prompted by your HR team, employees, or others.”

By encouraging open conversations and questions, Gill adds that you can create an accepting culture.

“HR should encourage employees to ask questions to avoid ignorance. We need to encourage employees to be self-aware so that they can acknowledge what they do/don’t know, and so that they can grow by asking their LGBTQ+ colleagues questions and having open conversations.”

3. Take small steps to implement change

“If you don’t know where to start in order to create an inclusive environment for LGBTQ+ employees, start small,” says Gill.

“At Ciphr, our HR team has started to include our pronouns in our email signature. This means that others can better understand LGBTQ+ employees and how to address them, and where they’re coming from if they are genderqueer or non-binary. It could also lead to LGBTQ+ employees feeling a bit safer.”

Another small step could be to address your recruitment processes and implement blind recruitment to remove unconscious bias.

By doing this, you can bring in top talent from a range of backgrounds and avoid discriminating candidates who may be LGBTQ+.

Such small steps can help you ensure that both diversity and inclusion become a bigger focus for the entire organisation.

“Diversity in all forms throughout the business actually gives us all a better chance of succeeding because we’re not all seeing everything from one viewpoint,” adds Gill.