Celebrating Pride: LGBTQIA+ inclusion in the workplace

Rebecca Moulynox

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Rebecca Moulynox

Author

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Coming out is not a one-time declaration; it’s a recurring decision that LGBTQIA+ individuals face repeatedly throughout their professional lives. Each new interaction, whether with a new colleague, a new boss, or during inter-departmental collaborations, poses the question of whether to reveal their true selves.

This ongoing decision-making process is critical because trust and connection are foundational to building innovative and high-performing teams. Yet, even in Australia’s top workplaces, LGBTQIA+ employees often find themselves at a disadvantage in key areas such as well-being and psychological support.

The Australian Context

In Australia, the challenges faced by LGBTQIA+ employees in the workplace are profound. According Diversity Council Australia’s Inclusion @Work Index, LGBTQIA+ employees reported much higher levels of discrimination/and or harassment at 39% compared to those of their straight counterparts at only 24%. This lack of safety can have severe implications on their mental health and job retention.

This is supported by Great Place To Work research, in a study of nearly half a million people, Great Place To Work found that the biggest discrepancy between LGBTQIA+ and straight employees’ experiences at work is their psychological safety. Even at great workplaces, LGBTQIA+ employees are 7% less likely to have a psychologically and emotionally healthy work environment compared with their straight coworkers.

Challenges Faced by LGBTQIA+ Employees

For LGBTQIA+ employees, particularly those who are also part of the Asian and Pacific Islander (API) communities, the disparities are even more striking. Great Place To Work’s research highlights that API LGBTQIA+ individuals are significantly more likely to experience depression and anxiety due to the dual impact of racial and sexual orientation discrimination.

These experiences are not isolated. Workplace culture across various sectors often mirrors broader societal attitudes, which can either hinder or promote LGBTQIA+ inclusion. Despite advancements in corporate diversity and inclusion strategies, many Australian companies still struggle to create an environment that supports the unique needs of their LGBTQIA+ employees effectively.

Company efforts to address these gaps must overcome a specific set of pressures. When analysing employee comments about diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) initiatives, we’ve observed unique pushback on various DEIB programs.

 

  • Programs focused on race and ethnicity receive pushback challenging the perceived merit of underrepresented minorities.
  • People who object to LGBTQIA+ programs urge their companies to avoid the very mention of LGBTQIA+ initiatives and attack the visibility of LGBTQIA+

 

Diversity Council Australia data also supports this showing in Australia opposition to D&I action in 2023 has doubled since 2019. Though still the minority, 7% of workers now oppose and strongly oppose D&I action. This is the highest opposition reported, compared to 3% in both 2017 and 2019, and 4% in 2021.

But denial is not a realistic strategy. The percent of people identifying as LGBTQIA+ has roughly doubled in each generation from traditionalists (born before 1946) to Gen Z. Today, 11% of millennials are LGBTQIA+ and 21% of Gen Z identifies as LGBTQ+. Companies must do better to support the one out of five employees who are part of this talent pool.

 

Addressing the Gaps

Companies need to adopt a multifaceted approach to address these discrepancies:

1. Redefine Workplace Fun and Inclusion: Instead of superficial perks, organisations should focus on what genuinely makes their LGBTQIA+ employees feel valued and included. This could mean flexible working arrangements to attend significant cultural or support events or implementing policies that genuinely respect diverse family structures.

2. Enhance Visibility and Representation: Celebrating LGBTQIA+ specific events such as Mardi Gras and Wear it Purple Day with genuine participation from senior leadership can significantly impact LGBTQIA+ employees’ sense of belonging and acceptance.

3. Improve Psychological Safety: Australian companies can learn from best practices globally by implementing targeted mental health support and ensuring that all managerial and HR staff are trained in LGBTQIA+ specific issues, including unconscious bias training.

4. Support through Policy: Policies should be audited to ensure they inclusively address the needs of LGBTQIA+ employees, such as recognising diverse relationship structures in leave and benefits policies and offering support for gender transition processes where applicable.

5. Community and Peer Support: Encouraging the formation of Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) for LGBTQIA+ employees provides a platform for support and advocacy within the company. Australian corporations can look to models like Flight Centre’s LGBTQIA+ ERG  or Allianz’s Pride ERG as benchmarks.

6. Data and Continuous Improvement: Regularly collecting and analysing data on employee experience can help identify gaps in the existing support systems for LGBTQIA+ employees. Surveys should be designed to capture detailed feedback on inclusivity and the effectiveness of implemented policies.

Invest in this work knowing that you might not be aware of everyone who will benefit.  

Don’t make the mistake of assuming you know how many or which people in your organisation would be supported by an ERG or feel included through your DEIB efforts.  Nearly 60% of LGBTQIA+ people are bisexual and 10% are transgender.

More than one out of four LGBTQIA+ employees are not out at work.  You may not know who is impacted by your efforts but every little action goes towards making someone feel more included and safe in your workplace.

 

Impact and Outcomes

Organisations that have embraced comprehensive strategies to support LGBTQIA+ employees often report better overall employee satisfaction, higher retention rates, and improved recruitment outcomes. By fostering an inclusive environment, companies not only adhere to ethical standards but also gain a competitive advantage by attracting diverse talent.

The Way Forward

Australian companies must continuously evolve their strategies to support LGBTQIA+ employees by listening to their experiences and adapting policies accordingly. Leadership must commit to these initiatives not just in word but in consistent actions that align public statements with internal policies.

As Australia moves forward, the integration of LGBTQIA+ supportive practices in the workplace will not only enhance the work environment for LGBTQIA+ employees but also enrich the corporate culture, leading to broader benefits for all employees. The journey towards full inclusivity is ongoing, but with committed action, significant progress can be achieved.

 

Measure equity and inclusion in your workplace

For more information or help on your DEIB journey, contact us about how to measure and improve belonging in your workplace with our employee experience survey and analysis tool.

Rebecca Moulynox

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Great Place To Work® Best Workplaces™ in Australia 2024 Evaluation Methodology

Great Place To Work determines the list using our proprietary For All methodology. To determine the Best Workplaces in Technology list, Great Place To Work analyses the survey responses of tens of thousands of employees from Great Place To Work Certified™ companies in the technology industry.

Our survey enables employees to share confidential quantitative and qualitative feedback about their organization’s culture by responding to 60 statements on a 5-point scale and answering two open-ended questions. Collectively, these statements describe a great employee experience, defined by high levels of trust, respect, credibility, fairness, pride, and camaraderie. In addition, companies provide organizational data like size, location, industry, demographics, roles, and levels. Great Place To Work measures the differences in survey responses across demographic groups and roles within each organization to assess both the quality and consistency of the employee experience.

Statements are weighted according to their relevance in describing the most important aspects of an equitable workplace. Survey data analysis and company-provided datapoints are then factored into a combined score to compare and rank the companies that create the most consistently positive experience for all employees in this industry.

To be considered for the list, companies must be Great Place To Work Certified™ and nominate as a company in the technology industry.

We require statistically significant survey results, review anomalies in responses, news, and financial performance, and investigate any employee reports of company incompliance with strict surveying rules to validate the integrity of the results and findings. 

Categories

These organisations’ assessment is based 100% on employee responses to the Trust Index survey.

  • Micro 10-29 Employees
  • Small 30-99 Employees
  • Medium 100-999 Employees
  • Large 1000+ Employees

Great Place To Work® Best Workplaces™ in Australia 2023 Evaluation Methodology

Great Place To Work determines the list using our proprietary For All methodology. To determine the Best Workplaces in Technology list, Great Place To Work analyses the survey responses of tens of thousands of employees from Great Place To Work Certified™ companies in the technology industry.

Our survey enables employees to share confidential quantitative and qualitative feedback about their organization’s culture by responding to 60 statements on a 5-point scale and answering two open-ended questions. Collectively, these statements describe a great employee experience, defined by high levels of trust, respect, credibility, fairness, pride, and camaraderie. In addition, companies provide organizational data like size, location, industry, demographics, roles, and levels. Great Place To Work measures the differences in survey responses across demographic groups and roles within each organization to assess both the quality and consistency of the employee experience.

Statements are weighted according to their relevance in describing the most important aspects of an equitable workplace. Survey data analysis and company-provided datapoints are then factored into a combined score to compare and rank the companies that create the most consistently positive experience for all employees in this industry.

To be considered for the list, companies must be Great Place To Work Certified™ and nominate as a company in the technology industry.

We require statistically significant survey results, review anomalies in responses, news, and financial performance, and investigate any employee reports of company incompliance with strict surveying rules to validate the integrity of the results and findings. 

Great Place To Work® Best Workplaces for Women™ List Methodology

The Best Workplaces for Women™list is determined using Great Place To Work’sFor All™methodology to evaluate hundreds of Certified™Great Place To Work®organisations across Australia.   

Data is based on over 40,000 employee survey responses from women in Great Place To Work® Certified™ organisations across Australia. 

The survey 

The survey enables employees to share confidential quantitative and qualitative feedback about their organisation’s culture by responding to 60 statements on a 5-point scale and answering two open-ended questions. 

Collectively, these statements describe a great employee experience, defined by high levels of trust, respect, credibility, fairness, pride, and camaraderie. In addition, companies provide organisational data like size, location, industry, and the number of women in the workforce and management positions. 

Considerations 

Great Place To Work analysed the gender balance of each workplace, how it compares to each company’s industry, and patterns in representation as women rise from front-line positions to executive/C-suite roles. 
Survey data analysis and women’s representation figures are then factored into a combined score to compare and rank the companies that create the most consistently positive experience and opportunities for all women, regardless of their role or demographic background.   

Eligibility   

To be considered for the list, companies must be Great Place To Work Certified™. Companies must also employ at least 50 women. We require statistically significant survey results, review anomalies in responses, and investigate any employee reports of company in compliance with strict surveying rules to validate the integrity of the results and findings. 

Please note this list is NOT ranked. 

Great Place To Work® Best Workplaces™ in Australia 2023 Evaluation Methodology

Great Place To Work, the global authority on workplace culture, determined the Best Workplaces™ Australia 2023 List by conducting annual workforce studies through our Trust Index Survey™ and Culture Management platform Emprising®, representing the voices of almost 50,000 employees across Australia.

Employees responded to over 60 survey questions describing the extent to which their organisation creates a great place to work For All™, meaning that the company empowers all individuals to reach their full human potential. Eighty-five percent of the evaluation is based on what employees report about their experiences of trust and reaching their full human potential as part of their organisation, no matter who they are or what they do. We analyse these experiences relative to each organisation’s size, workforce make up, and what’s typical in their industry and region. The remainder of the evaluation is an assessment of all employees’ daily experiences of the company’s values, people’s ability to contribute new ideas, and the effectiveness of their leaders to ensure they’re consistently experienced.

To ensure surveys truly represent all employees, we require enough people in each organisation to respond that results are accurate to a 95% confidence level and 5% margin of error or better. We review any anomalies in survey responses, news and financial performance to ensure there aren’t any extraordinary reasons to believe we couldn’t trust a company’s survey results.

 

Categories

These organisations’ assessment is based 100% on employee responses to the Trust Index survey.

For larger organisations with more than 100 employees, we also use our Culture Audit™ tool, asking organisations to share with us their practices, policies and programs to creating a great workplace For All™ and evaluating the approach they take.

Why do you say in one place your national list scoring is based on 85%/15% and in another place that it is 75%/25%?

We are explaining two different things:

1.  The criteria we evaluate

2.  Where the data comes from