Article - LGBT Sensitivity Training in the Workplace
With the modern world shifting its attitudes and ideals toward being more accepting of others who are openly LGBT, organizations must be proactive in responding to this, utilizing those results to the fullest potential. No company can afford to lose talent, and LGBT members have a wealth of skills and gifts just like any other associate your company has employed. You know this. They know this. But, do all of your associates know this? Chances are that most do, especially those in younger generations who are more familiar with open LGBT people. Inevitably, however, you will have members of your company who are not quite as accepting of such changes. This is where you have work to do. This is where your productivity level will suffer, in the long run.
The reasons are varied for why people in your business might not be comfortable with members of the LGBT community. It can be traditional upbringings, lack of exposure, or even sheer misunderstanding. Everyone is different. Some of those differences are not going to be pretty. This is not something to reject. It’s an opportunity for development, thus retaining the skills of a person who should be considered just as valuable, instead of outright rejecting them due to intolerance.
WHAT TO DO
In a word…training. More specifically…sensitivity training. Your company needs to have a strong program that delivers routine and continuously updated sensitivity training for the LGBT community (and co-worker relations in general, but that’s another topic). People who do have no desire for inclusion of LGBT people are likely to tolerate them just enough to hold their jobs, but will not have enough awareness to know certain comments should not be said in the workplace. Fairness in project assignments and performance appraisals could be affected by this, as well. Team efforts must include the whole team, not leaving out certain people. Some people in your organization might have a different opinion about inclusion, as stated above, but it’s inclusion that is the key to making any organization run smoother, provide better service, and produce more effective associates and managers. Being intolerant of LGBT members is simply a result of inclusion that is lacking.
Conflicting groups of people cannot get to this point without help. That is where the company is responsible, especially one that requires everyone to sign a written employee policy that does not allow discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression, as many corporations have done. If people are going to treat each other in a way that enhances business, they need assistance in understanding how to do that.
There are plenty of resources out there which have been generated for the specific purpose of exposing associates and managers to the diversity of the workforce in which they are members. This can be accomplished with routine conferences and meetings that an entire staff can participate in, the frequency of which can be written into standard operating procedures and/or company policy. Whether it’s the CEO or entry-level personnel, everyone in the organization should be exposed to this kind of training.
Videos not your thing? Consider hiring a guest speaker who has expertise in delivering presentations or talks about diversity and LGBT issues. There are certified trainers who are ready to facilitate direct instruction on all LGBT issues. Online sources are numerous, which those employed in your organization can utilize as well. A smart company is one that makes time for associates to access these resources.
INCLUSION IS THE KEY
It’s all about the inclusion. Without it, no member employed in your organization is going to feel valued or appreciated, and certainly will not experience opportunities to advance themselves or the business. This is most poignant with the LGBT community because of all they have endured, but it is equally important for those who do not identify as LGBT. This is a group often forgotten, during LGBT training, and it is a chief complaint (usually uttered in break rooms everywhere) in the world of professionals.
Though intolerance cannot be accepted in a company, as it will decay and destroy the foundation of the organization and ruin a business, everyone receiving the training should come away with an understanding that they are still valued and respected. This should also include those who are not in the LGBT community. Full inclusion is the key to this, for everyone in your company.
The fastest way to lose good people is to make one segment of your company feel as though their personal viewpoint is of no value, when it is actually all about how that value affects the realm of business (as opposed to personal life). Intolerance cannot exist in an organization of people who must work together and be productive managers and associates. Personal opinion must be taken out of the equation, on all sides.
When members of the military fight side-by-side in battle, they might not appreciate the color of each others skin, for example, but they are still members of the same team and brothers and sisters in arms. They must still be there for each other, or they could pay the ultimate price. This is something imbedded in those members at the most basic levels of training. Companies are going to be no different. There is a job to do and everyone is doing it to make the company work. If LGBT training does not convey this, it has won the support of only the LGBT community itself and its supporters, not anyone else.
Inclusion is for everyone. Without that, you lose any number of an entire segment of your organization, any one of which could have been your next highest performer.
Article Author: Business Training Media
Business Training Media is a global provider of diversity and LGBT training videos for employees, managers, supervisors and students. The company has provided training solutions to over 22,000 organizations worldwide from start-ups to high-profile companies like American Express, IBM, 3M, FedEx, American Honda, Cisco, Verizon, Microsoft, AT&T, Bank of America, Google and thousands of others.