- Establish an inclusive environment. Emphasizing inclusivity should start in the hiring and onboarding process, by paying attention to pronouns, for example. This signals that inclusion efforts are at the forefront of the organization.
- Stressing the whole self. Organizations and leadership must consider how company-wide initiatives and day-to-day practices affect whether employees can bring their whole selves to work.
- Be open about allyship. To make the organization’s position clear, be transparent in interviews, encourage internal discussions and routinely check in with LGBTQ+ employees and allies about how they feel regarding company practices.
- A year-round effort. The most inclusive employers make authentic allyship integral to corporate culture, values and social responsibility 365 days per year, not just during Pride Month.
Each year, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) updates its Corporate Equality Index to compile a new list of Best Places to Work for LGBTQ+ Equality, which ranks organizations on corporate policies, practices and benefits pertaining to LGBTQ+ employees.
In January 2022, the HRC recognized more than 800 companies that met all the necessary criteria to secure a 100% rating in the aforementioned index and earn the designation of being one of the HRC’s best employers for LGBTQ+ workers.
More recently, FlexJobs has shared a list of 100 remote-friendly companies that support the LGBTQ+ community “by offering an inclusive, supportive working environment, as well as fantastic jobs with excellent work flexibility,” according to a FlexJobs statement highlighting these organizations.
FlexJobs developed the list by comparing its database with companies on the Human Rights Campaign’s most recent list of best employers for LGBTQ+ workers.
Global insurance company AIG, for example, offers part- and full-time remote work opportunities and is the recipient of numerous awards and accolades for its diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts, according to FlexJobs.
For instance, AIG has been named to DiversityInc.’s Top 25 Companies for Diversity for three consecutive years, and has been named one of the Best Places to Work for LGBTQ+ Equality by the Human Rights Campaign.
Redwood City, California-based video game company Electronic Arts (EA) has received a 100% rating on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index on multiple occasions. EA has also updated its global equal employment policies “to include sexual identity, but [has] also updated our transgender policies with a push to ensure inclusive practices were global,” according to the company.
Carol Cochran, vice president of people and culture at FlexJobs, sees a common thread running through the organizations that consistently appear on the Human Rights Campaign’s list of best employers for LGBTQ+ workers.
These companies “have all taken significant steps to implement concrete policies that ensure greater equity for LGBTQ+ workers and their families,” said Cochran, citing examples such as DoorDash’s dedicated employee resource group (ERG) for LGBTQ+ workers and allies, and Lyft’s decision to offer ride credits to transgender and non-binary individuals, and to allow users to specify their preferred pronouns.
Prioritizing an LGBTQ+ work environment is “imperative,” said Cochran, adding that inclusivity should start in the hiring and onboarding process.
“When interviewing, pay attention to pronouns, and share yours first. This will not only encourage candidates to do the same, but also signals that inclusion efforts are at the forefront of your organization.”
On the job, organizations and leadership must consider how company-wide initiatives and day-to-day practices affect whether or not employees “can bring their whole selves to work,” she said, noting a recent survey that found 85% of LGBTQ+ employees “have a different personality while at work” and are more likely to conceal their identity in the workplace.
“Whether its in a job application, email signature, all-hands meeting or company document, inclusive language that reflects all members of the LGBTQ+ community should be woven into everything a company does.”
The company must also be open about corporate allyship.
“There should never be a question about where an organization stands in supporting the LGBTQ+ community,” she said.
“To make your position clear, be transparent in interviews, encourage internal discussions, routinely check in with LGBTQ+ employees and allies — either through an anonymous survey or in one-on-one meetings with managers — about how they feel regarding existing company practices, prioritize representation in upper management and leadership teams, and be open to employee feedback.”
Employers must also be mindful of the wage gap that exists between LGBTQ+ employees and their heterosexual colleagues. For example, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation has found that LGBTQ+ workers earn about 90 cents for every dollar earned by a typical heterosexual worker.
An organization can take several steps to address and eliminate this disparity, said Cochran, referencing HRC recommendations such as instituting transparency policies on pay that help identify pay inequalities, ensuring benefits packages include both legal spouses and domestic partners, and conducting annual assessments of collected pay data by sexual orientation, gender and gender identity.
When it comes to addressing DEI issues in the workforce, organizations and their leaders “are just scratching the surface,” added Kevin Carrington, a senior vice president at HR and benefits consulting firm Segal.
“Adopting DEI policies is a challenge, because change is hard. To remain relevant and attractive as a career destination, business leaders must be intentional about how they address racial justice and equity issues, and inviting more women, people of color and the LGBTQ+ community to a company’s leadership.”
And, Carrington urges leaders and others throughout the organization interested in becoming effective allies to “take the initiative, and to research what it means to be a member, and an ally, of the LGBTQ+ community. Don’t leave it up to your LGBTQ+ employees to educate you and other co-workers.”
Ultimately, the effort to be this type of true ally is an ongoing, year-round one, said Cochran.
Rainbow washing and performative corporate allyship are never OK. If you’re going to stand with the LGBTQ+ community on public-facing platforms like social media, first take time to consider how your organization is currently and authentically supporting, celebrating and uplifting your LGBTQ+ employees and the community as a whole,” she said.
“The most inclusive employers make authentic allyship integral to corporate culture, values and social responsibility 365 days per year, not just during Pride Month.”