Valuing LGBTQI+ People in Organisations

11 June 2024
Diversity, Employee Wellbeing, Knowledge

A Path to Innovation and Inclusivity


The undeniable value of diversity and inclusion in the workplace is clear to many. However, one aspect of diversity among others that still faces significant challenges is the inclusion and valuing of LGBTQI+ individuals for many reasons, including a lack of understanding and experience with those who identify with this group as well as a disconnect of values or belief system alignment between one’s own and an organisation purported values.

This article explores several aspects of the value proposition of actively recognising LGBTQI+ people within organisations, supported by robust research, and highlights the costs of exclusion. Additionally, it delves into the rise of negative rhetoric against LGBTQI+ communities and offers actionable steps for allies and advocates to foster a supportive and inclusive environment.

The Value Proposition of Celebrating LGBTQI+ People

Organisations that actively celebrate LGBTQI+ employees can reap numerous benefits. Firstly, diverse teams foster enhanced creativity and innovation, as varied perspectives lead to unique solutions.

Employee satisfaction and retention also see a significant boost, as inclusive environments cultivate a sense of belonging and loyalty. Furthermore, a company’s reputation as a champion of diversity attracts a wider customer base and builds brand loyalty, ultimately driving business growth.

How organisations communicate and in reality, support various groups represented in their organisations is what validates their support of diversity and inclusion to those internally and external to the organization. How an organisation provides messaged and observable support for employees from various groups.

Research consistently shows that diversity and its effective inclusion correlates with better financial performance: companies in the top quartile for ethnic and cultural diversity are 33% more likely to outperform their peers on profitability (1). Additionally, LGBTQI+ inclusive workplaces see higher levels of employee engagement and productivity. For instance, a Human Rights Campaign Foundation report revealed that LGBTQI+ employees who feel accepted are 20-30% more productive than those who feel isolated or excluded. Case studies from companies like Google and IBM, which have robust LGBTQI+ inclusion policies, demonstrate substantial gains in innovation and employee satisfaction.

Organisational Cost of Lack of Inclusion

The absence of LGBTQI+ inclusion results in significant organisational costs. Unwelcoming environments drive away talented employees, leading to increased turnover and recruitment costs. Decreased morale among non-inclusive workplaces also results in lower productivity with a consistent response regarding the energy and effort placed in ensuring that one is in a safe space and strategizing how to effectively maneuver potential non-inclusive and even hostile environments to simply perform their daily job responsibilities. A study highlighted that the lack of diversity and inclusion can lead to a 30% drop in market performance over time. (3)

The Rise in Negative Rhetoric and Its Impact

Recent years have seen a troubling increase in negative rhetoric and legislative actions against LGBTQI+ communities. This surge has profound psychological and emotional effects on LGBTQI+ individuals, leading to heightened stress, anxiety, and depression. In the workplace, this negativity disrupts team cohesion and can severely undermine the mental health and performance of affected employees. Real-world examples, such as the backlash against LGBTQI+ rights in various states, illustrate the damaging effects on employee well-being and organizational culture, not only impacting those directly affected but those who work with and depend on individual, team and organizational culture of trust and belonging to meet organizational goals and objectives.

The Role of Allies and Advocates

Allies and advocates play a crucial role in fostering an inclusive workplace. Being an ally involves educating oneself about LGBTQI+ issues, challenging discriminatory behaviour by being a visible equity advocate, and actively supporting LGBTQI+ colleagues. Practical steps include attending training and development opportunities, participating in LGBTQI+ events, and clarify and validate the use inclusive language that is appreciated by various members of this community. Successful allyship is exemplified by initiatives like Salesforce’s “Ohana” culture, which integrates LGBTQI+ support into its core values, resulting in high employee satisfaction and retention across all members of the organization.

Implementing Effective Inclusion Strategies

Creating an inclusive workplace requires strategic effort and commitment. Best practices include establishing clear non-discrimination policies, offering benefits that support LGBTQI+ employees (such as healthcare coverage for same-sex partners), and creating employee resource groups (ERGs). Continuous training and development for all staff, especially managers, ensure that inclusion becomes an ingrained part of the company culture. Metrics for success might include employee satisfaction surveys, diversity audits, and tracking retention rates among LGBTQI+ staff.

Recognising and valuing LGBTQI+ people within organisations are not only a moral imperative but also a business one. Inclusive environments drive innovation, improve employee satisfaction, and enhance organizational reputation. In contrast, exclusion results in significant costs and damages. As negative rhetoric continues to rise, the role of allies and advocates becomes ever more critical. By implementing effective inclusion strategies, organisations can ensure long-term success and a positive workplace culture.