Last month I had the pleasure of leading a live webinar for the Housing Diversity Network on best practice and top-tips for developing an LGBT+ inclusivity strategy. I was thrilled to be recommended by Together Housing – a housing group I recently completed an LGBT+ inclusivity assessment for. In fact, Together Housing were so impressed with my assessment and final report, when recommending me they said, “it’s clear she knows her stuff and then some!”
WHAT DOES LGBT+ INCLUSIVITY MEAN?
For me LGBT+ inclusivity means, creating an environment where:
- LGBT+ identities are celebrated
- LGBT+ people and their allies feel welcome, safe and able be themselves, free from prejudice and discrimination
- LGBT+ people feel accepted, respected and recognised for who they are
- LGBT+ people experience equality of opportunity
- LGBT+ people have their specific needs and requirements met.
For specific sectors and organisations, there will be specific areas to focus on when creating an LGBT+ inclusive environment. However, there are areas everyone should be considering and taking action on, regardless of where and how you work. I’m going to share these with you today.
ALWAYS ASSESS AND THEN ACT
Firstly, it can seem quite overwhelming, even in a positive way, when you first start striving for LGBT+ inclusion. LGBT+ inclusivity will not happen overnight and that is absolutely okay. In fact, I would argue that it should not happen overnight. An LGBT+ inclusion strategy requires planning and consideration to make sure it is achieved in the correct way. Perhaps you have already taken some steps or maybe you have not taken any and that’s okay too. The most important thing is not to rush into anything. I cannot stress enough the importance of assessing where you are now and then taking appropriate action.
Assessing where you are now will highlight areas that require implementation, areas where there are room for improvements, along with areas where you are already LGBT+ inclusive. Consequently, this will give you the foundations of an LGBT+ inclusion strategy moving forward, as you will know what you are doing well, what you could be doing better and what you are not doing. Recommendations can be made and thus create a short, medium, and long-term strategy. So, my top-tip is always assess and then act.
WHAT SHOULD YOU ASSESS WHEN THINKING ABOUT LGBT+ INCLUSIVITY?
For me, assessing LGBT+ inclusivity is about three areas:
It is vital that from both internal and external perspectives your organisation is seen or perceived to be LGBT+ inclusive. However, this on its own is not enough, albeit a great starting point. It is also essential that those working with you – your employees, your clients, your stakeholders – feel and experience LGBT+ inclusivity within the workplace and when accessing your services. Additionally, you need to assess whether your current practices and facilities are LGBT+ inclusive too.
Assessing all three of the areas above will include looking at the following:
- Representation of LGBT+ people
- Celebration of LGBT+ people
- LGBT+ inclusive language use
Within an LGBT+ inclusivity assessment all areas of the organisation will need to be assessed in terms of the three areas above. Perhaps by completing a confidential employee survey and an assessment of web content to name only two examples.
WHAT WILL AN LGBT+ INCLUSIVITY ASSESSMENT GIVE YOU?
Importantly, an assessment should provide you with both quantitative and qualitative data. This can be used to evidence not only where you are now, in terms of your LGBT+ inclusivity, but why this work is required within your organisation. You will then be able to develop a short, medium and long-term strategy based on the recommendations resulting from your assessment.
Completing an assessment will highlight to your employees, clients and stakeholders that you want to create an LGBT+ inclusive environment and that equality and diversity is important to you. In turn, this will help grow your positive reputation within the wider community, bringing in more leads as well as creating a truly inclusive and positive working environment where employees will thrive – potentially improving work ethic, commitment and productivity.
WHAT CAN I DO FOR YOU?
Of course, this is just an overview. However, I hope it will be of use to you when you start to work towards LGBT+ inclusivity within your organisation. An LGBT+ inclusivity assessment can be done in house, by you and your colleagues. However, it can also be completed by me as an external consultant, as I did for Together Housing earlier this year.
If this service is something you’d like me to deliver for your organisation, or if you would like to have a free 20 minute telephone or Zoom consultation with me to discuss how you might go about this in house, please do get in touch.
And remember, wherever you are in terms of LGBT+ inclusivity, always assess and then act 😊.