LGBTQIA+ is an umbrella term representing people who identify themselves as a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex, asexual, and more. Despite decriminalisation of same-sex relationships by the Supreme Court in 2008 and transgenders being recognised as third gender in 2014, LGBTQIA+ communities still have a long way to go to be inclusive in our Indian society.
LGBTQIA+ communities continue to face discrimination be it in personal or professional spaces. Yes, homophobia is real AF.
Here are eight ways you can make your workplace LGBTQIA+ friendly for everyone:
1. Establishing LGBTQIA+ anti-discriminatory policy
Most professionals raise eyebrows while being around gays, lesbians, transgenders and more at workplaces and discriminate them on the basis of their sexual orientation. It’s time to establish anti-discriminatory policies for all employees.
2. Respecting the pronouns they use and never misgendering them
LGBTQIA+ often feel discriminated during their hiring process in an organisation. There is a dire need to use the pronouns they use for themselves. Instead of making them tick ‘Male/Female’ or even ‘Prefer Not To Say’, give them an option to be expressive.
3. Normalising non-binary dress codes for employees
Most LGBTQIA+ employees have no choice but to set themselves as per gender-specific dress codes at work places. Normalise non-binary clothing for all employees.
4. Inviting employees to LGBTQIA+ support programmes
Companies should create a habit of inviting every employee to LGBTQIA+ specific programmes or seminars. This practice may help in reducing homophobia amongst heterosexuals and create a healthy work environment.
5. Celebrating Pride Month inside the premises
Why keep pride month only for streets? Celebrate it inside the workplace too. Pitch ideas of organising fashion shows or flash mobs to spread awareness about the LGBTQIA+ communities within the office.
6. Not pressurising them to come out of closet
While coming out of closet is definitely a great step, do not pressurise LGBTQIA+ employees to make it official at workplace. It is their personal choice and let them decide how they want to (or not).
7. Avoiding statements like male/females required in vacancy posts
Almost every job vacancy or job advertisement that you see around requires either male/female candidates and/or both. Why do we even need to include such gender-discriminatory statements here? Let’s keep it neutral, shall we?
8. Organising mandatory sensitivity meetings
Not just LGBTQIA+ programmes, employers should also organise mandatory gender-sensitivity team meetings on weekly basis for their employees. Discussing the idea of creating a safe environment for LGBTQIA+ youth every seven days is a great choice.
9. Reserving jobs for LGBTQIA+ candidates
While Karnataka has already reserved one per cent of jobs for transgenders in public sector employment, how about all LGBTQIA+ communities getting such quotas at workplaces?