Equality in the workplace
For those of you who don’t know, June is LGBT+ Pride month. A month-long celebration of equality and diversity across the world (in those countries that have legalised being LGBT) where the LGBT+ community can not only celebrate the huge strides they have made in gaining rights, but also be free to be their true selves. Interestingly, it’s under those circumstances that we as people, come into our own. Psychology now says that people who are free from personal oppression perform a staggeringly 87% better in the workplace than those who feel a level of oppression towards their personal beliefs. So, no wonder so many organisations are striving to treat all employees equally and empowering everybody to speak out about their personal truth.
When an employee feels valued, their self-esteem goes up, their morale increases, and their motivation and productivity reach their best. But fostering a culture where this level of acceptance and value is felt among all staff can take time and energy.
In recent years, more and more organisations are looking into how they become an inclusive employer. Putting policies in place that encourage and support their staff to be their true selves; actively championing individuality and creating an open and inclusive work environment – and those brands who are supporting their staff are reaping the benefits in a huge way.
Championing the LGBT+ movement across the UK is Pride in London, the UK’s largest Pride organisation, which has a month-long campaign to bring LGBT+ issues to the forefront of discussions across the country. They work with an array of large corporates to bring LGBT+ inclusion to the forefront of their agenda.
One of the largest UK banks, Barclays has embraced LGBT+ culture in their workplace. Driven from the top, they want all of their employees to be their true selves and give them and their whole organisations the tools and knowledge to embrace a diverse working environment.
‘Imagine being worried that people will judge you simply because of the person you love, or the gender you identify with. I can’t imagine not being able to come into the office and talk about what I did on the weekend. I can’t imagine not being accepted for being me. At Barclays, we aim to have a workplace where everyone feels confident about bringing their whole self to work and excels on their merit.’
Michael Roemer, Group Chief Compliance Officer and Executive Sponsor of the LGBT+ agenda
They also outwardly support both Pride and LGBT+ issues using their brand to show they fully support the LGBT+ community. During Pride month they have rainbow themed ATM cash machines called ‘GAYtm’s’ and host the annual OUT Leadership conference every year.
A global brand with a big reputation, Starbucks take equality very seriously. Only recently (May 18) did they close all 8,000 of their US stores to give diversity training to their employees because of an incident with two black customers.
Starbucks is also a huge supporter of the LGBT+ community across the world and has been so since 2007. They even have their own Pride Facebook page dedicated to the work they do for the LGBT+ community.
Steve Flanagan, director of marketing at Starbucks EMEA, comments:
“We are incredibly excited to be a part of Pride in London again this year to celebrate our partners (employees) and customers, and encourage them to feel pride, too. At Starbucks, we embrace diversity and offer the platform for our partners to shine and be proud of who they are.”
During London Pride day itself, Starbucks will be branding up their London stores with rainbow coloured balloons and selling Pride pins where the proceeds will be donated to Pride in London. Customers can even opt for rainbow sprinkles on their coffee to celebrate the day too.
Does this have an impact?
Without question, these efforts have a colossal impact on both employees and wider stakeholders of each business. Not only are these brands championing the diversity in their workforce, telling them that they are free to be themselves at work as they would at home but they are also showing the world they support equal rights.
Inviting a sense of security and safety into the workplace where staff members can be free and open about their lives can have the most positive impacts on any business.
But what does this mean? Empowerment: staff members who are treated with respect and equal to their colleagues feel empowered and with empowerment comes a whole host of business-boosting traits. Improved mood, increased productivity, a caring work environment, and a happy workforce, which can’t be underestimated. Forbes reported that in a survey of the top 100 companies that those who had policies relating to the ‘happiness’ of their employees saw a 37% increase in sales over the other companies. And even more amazing is that those organisations stock prices rose 14% opposed to the 6% increase in the companies that didn’t have like for like policies.
But it’s not just internal stakeholders that benefit. With large corporates as the ones above activity supporting and promoting the LGBT+ community, it makes others stand up where they haven’t before. Brands start to listen and take a positive stance in protecting the rights of all of those that they do business with – leading to a fairer more conscious world.
If you’re an organisation that wants to start making a positive change but doesn’t know where to start, look internally. You’ll have a lot more employees that identify as LGBT+ than you may imagine and making inclusivity for all employees at the forefront of your agenda will become a momentous moment in striving to be a great employer.
We work with a wide range of organisations on their CSR polices and stratagies. if you need some support, contact us.