Supporting LGBTQ+ people at work is really important in your diversity and inclusion efforts. In this Q&A with Rachel, you’ll get some brilliant guidance on what you can be doing to make sure LGBTQ+ people feel supported and included at work.
Why does diversity and inclusion at work matter?
Macquarie harnesses the strength and diversity of its people through inclusion. Inclusion means creating a workplace environment where people feel they can be themselves, regardless of their gender (including gender identity), age, ethnicity, cultural affiliation, sexual orientation, beliefs or educational background. Macquarie understands that people perform better when they can be themselves, so we see creating a culture of inclusion as a commercial priority.
Why is it important to support LGBTQ+ employees?
First and foremost, it’s against the law to discriminate against an individual based on their sexual orientation. But beyond basic legal compliance, the importance of psychological safety, and the value of bringing one’s whole self to work, have been demonstrated irrefutably by many studies in recent years.
Any employee who feels the need to devote energy to the distraction of ‘covering’, or to withhold full participation in or contribution to workplace teams, is a sub-optimal resource for their employer – it makes no business sense. It can also be dangerous: limiting the diversity of respected perspectives, encouraging ‘groupthink’, and even, in the example of Macquarie’s own industry, financial services, adversely affect culture and conduct – an area of utmost focus these days for regulators.
For the individual, the benefits are both internal and external – improved mental wellbeing personally, as well as being a valuable example to others. So, supporting LGBTQ+ employees drives improved productivity and engagement, staff retention and – most importantly for any business – diversity of thought.
How should you approach this?
People policies and training support
Macquarie has several policies in place to support our LGBTQ+ colleagues, such as equal access to benefits and family related leave. It’s also helpful to offer training programmes for all employees. Some that we run at Macquarie are:
- Orientation – a focus on diversity and inclusion throughout all orientation programmes
- Appropriate Workplace Behaviour – including specific education around protected characteristics and mentoring.
- Conscious Decision Making – designed to combat unconscious bias in everyday decisions
- Diversity related content in all management and leadership training programmes
- Allies training (typically delivered by Stonewall, the UK’s leading LGBTQ+ rights charity) to help non-LGBTQ+ employees understand challenges, language and support
Top tips for writing inclusive employee policies are:
- Review all existing policies and make sure inclusive language, such as gender-neutral pronouns, is being used throughout
- Specify all the protected characteristics to which a policy applies (age, disability, gender reassignment, marital or civil partnership status, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion and belief, gender and sexual orientation)
- Make sure your policies are tailored according to the business culture – use an appropriate tone of voice and that follow your brand guidelines
Leadership and staff engagement
It’s important to engage employees at all levels in supporting LGBTQ+ colleagues. Macquarie does this in a few different ways:
- The regional Executive Management Committee has oversight and is responsible for approving the objectives and practices of all employee network groups (ENGs). They internally highlight protected characteristics.
- Three members of EMC are formally designated as executive sponsors of Macquarie’s LGBTQ+ employee network group, Pride. They champion the cause of LGBTQ+ workplace equality at executive level.
- The Pride ENG itself is led by staff for the benefit of staff. They form the Pride steering committee and lead the focus and approach, with embedded representation from HR and constant liaison with the corporate communications team.
- Allies form a specific group of employees who don’t necessarily identify as LGBTQ+ themselves but are advocates and supporters. They help by raising awareness and attending Pride events. We offer them training and mentoring from LGBTQ+ colleagues to help them understand the challenges that LGBTQ+ people experience.
It’s essential to make sure your employees are aware of the different LGBTQ+ support groups and resources available. They should also know about awareness days and landmarks that you’re celebrating at work. Some methods we’ve used at Macquarie to get the message across are:
- Sending internal communications around specific awareness days, such as International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia, Interphobia and Transphobia and Pride month
- Using digital screens, posters and flyers throughout the workplace to promote our LGBTQ+ support group(s)
- Displaying specific LGBTQ+ related promotional material in visible areas, such as reception and communal staff areas, to coincide with landmark dates or events. Macquarie does this to signal, both internally and externally, its commitment to LGBTQ+ awareness and equality, with the standard motto being “We’re proud when our people are”.
- Running events and communications across the year: hosting activities on awareness days, offering training and encouraging fundraising for LGBTQ+ related activity
Aside from employee-related activity, it’s beneficial to work with external organisations to provide training and support to your LGBTQ+ networks. Some that we’ve worked with are:
- Bi Pride
- Black Pride
- Diversity Role Models
- Gendered Intelligence
- Global Butterflies
- The London Bi Network
- Opening Doors London
- The Outside Project
- Positive East
- Pride in the City
- Trans in the City
Examples of policies
We make clear to everyone at Macquarie that we must create an environment which is free from homophobia, biphobia and transphobia (as well as all other forms of discrimination). We do this through policies such as our Acceptable Workplace Behaviour policy, backed up by a mandatory training for all new employees.
We regularly review the rest of our policies (such as parental leave and bullying and harassment policies) to make sure that they’re fully inclusive and use language applicable to LGBTQ+ people and families. We also have a specific trans policy to support transitioning people and their line managers to help us provide the best possible experience. It’s important to have one of these even if you don’t know who the trans people are in your workplace.
About Macquarie Group
Macquarie Group is a global financial services group operating in 32 markets providing clients with asset management, retail and business banking, wealth management, leasing and asset financing, market access, commodity trading, renewables development, specialist advisory, capital raising and principal investment. They are an ambassador of Heart of the City. More information is here.
This was updated in February 2022 by Heart of the City with the kind assistance of Macquarie Group. We’ve created these resources for individual SMEs to use. None of our content is to be adapted, reused or repurposed for commercial use.