Diversity and Inclusion: Is your company doing enough?

It’s officially the end of this year’s #PRIDE month celebration — and each year during the month of June, I have all the feels as I see company’s big and small show their support for the LGBTQ+ community by overlaying their logo with a rainbow.

First, I have to admit I love a good rainbow. But more than that, it is encouraging to see so many company’s make a public declaration about the inclusive workplaces they believe in.

Well, that they want you to believe in.

And then after my joy at seeing the rainbows and feeling proud as an ally… I get angry. And frustrated. And cynical.

Another HR influencer, William Tincup, reignited my anger publicly when he challenged companies with this:

Here’s the thing. Your company, likely doesn’t support your LGBTQ+ community in reality. Changing a company’s logo for a month does NOT mean that it truly creates, respects, encourages, practices, or acts with diversity and inclusion in mind.

Changing a logo takes 5 seconds. But it doesn’t change the actual employee experience your company creates and reinforces.

Let’s start with the real things that would show true #PRIDE at your company. Things that actual matter to you on a daily basis.

Are your compensation practices truly inclusive?

Do you look at experience and potential or do you skew to a certain degree or education? The gender pay gap is real, but what hasn’t yet been captured across the board quantitatively, are the compensation biases that occur to diverse populations — with an added layer of potential biases for the LGBTQ+ population.

We could all go down the compensation rabbit hole for hours — but let’s just agree that if employees are not paid fairly across the board, it impacts more than just their salary.

My favorite: Do your benefit packages work for the LGBTQ+ community?

This one irks me more than any other single item on this list, because it is fairly easy for your company to fix, but most don’t and never will. You cannot be inclusive if your benefit packages do not provide for this community the same as others.Do your benefit packages work for the #LGBTQ+ community? You cannot be inclusive if your benefit packages do not provide for this community the same as others. #HR Click To Tweet
Let me be specific:

1. Do you cover surgery and mental health for the trans community?

Or is it still considered “cosmetic/elective surgery?” (This is painful for me to type, but most medical insurance programs are still written this way).

If your insurance programs do not recognize these things are necessary and covered medical expenses, you are invalidating the trans community.

2. Do you cover IVF, egg freezing, surrogacy, adoption, etc. services in your plan?

You may be thinking that these are things that heterosexual couples need coverage for, and you’d be right. But let’s be clear: if you are part of a same-sex couple (or any other person looking to start a family in a “non-traditional way”), there is no other option but to go down this path. You are keeping these communities at a disadvantage — and setting them up for a very expensive road… to create a family.

3. Are your leave policies applied to just women, or equally to men?

This is a quickly changing area of focus, but do you provide the same bonding time to men that you do women? It can be very costly on paper to an organization, but from a LGBTQ+ perspective, you are putting men at a disadvantage because of their gender (and that’s just not fair, especially if they are bonding with a new baby — and add that to, perhaps they are part of a same-sex male couple).

Do your company policies support inclusion?

Most company policies these days are written with inclusion in mind, but have you given them a second glance? Have you had members of your LGBTQ+ community review them and point out any areas of friction or offense?

Do it. Because while your policies may look good on paper, they could probably be better.Most company policies these days are written with inclusion in mind, but have you had members of your LGBTQ+ community review them and point out any areas of friction or offense? Click To Tweet
Does your company culture cultivate inclusion?

This one is harder to pinpoint — since culture isn’t a seen deliverable, it’s a “thing” or feeling. It’s a sense of safety in the workplace and truthfully, we are failing on this in most places (even if you don’t want to admit it out loud).

I was coaching an employee at a Fortune 500 company, and he was telling me how he had been working at the company for six years and had recently (within the past year), transitioned in the workplace. (Please forgive me if I’m not using the same language you would in explaining this story — these are his words). He told me that he’s scared at work everyday now. No one had said anything to him directly, but there are constant whispers behind his back. People have stopped inviting him to lunch. He hasn’t received as many special projects. And so on. He’s not safe at work.

A “on the surface we’re inclusive but we’re really not” environment is kinda the norm. Most of us have felt it in one way or another. I can’t tell you have many male managers have talked to me like a stupid girl; or told me to calm down; or that I’m too emotional; or a bitch; or, or, or. And I’m just an ally.A “on the surface we’re inclusive but we’re really not” environment is kinda the norm. Most of us have felt it in one way or another. #Pride2019 #HR Click To Tweet
I can’t imagine the work experience if you are part of the LGBTQ+ community in a small town in the middle of the country; or report to an intolerant person who hides it to their manager well. I can’t even imagine it.

But do *you know for sure,* that your work environment is not only causing this feeling of danger, but is also NOT actively supporting our differences?

Basically, I’m tired of company’s putting on a rainbow show, giving a false of diversity and inclusion, for one month each year. When the daily lives of the LGBTQ+ community are suffering at work, every minute, or every day.

What are you going to do to turn your company’s rainbow logo into reality?