At AHCS, our beliefs are firmly planted in acceptance, understanding and inclusion. Keeping in mind that our role as a health care staffing agency is based on compassion and trust, echoing this message is important to us, our values and initiatives. With that said, today we are continuing the conversation on fostering an inclusive workplace and providing a safe and open environment for those who identify as LGBTQ+.
Why Is This Important?
As human beings, we rely on social connections and togetherness. And nobody wants to feel as though they are out of place or masking their true identity in order to fit in and avoid discrimination. The simple fact is that cisgender straight individuals do not face scrutiny for their gender identity or sexual orientation – and because of this, it’s easy to lack awareness around the many privileges this group enjoys, such as speaking freely about a romantic partner without possible repercussions or fear of discomfort. Since the status quo seems to remain that straight is the standard, we need to start moving the needle so that the alternative is normalized and celebrated. Everyone deserves to feel comfortable in their own skin, in and out of the workplace. But given that the majority of us spend a great deal of time at work, we need to make it a safe space.
Where To Start
Begin by educating yourself and your office on basic language, terms and meanings surrounding LGBTQ+. This should include getting familiar with what each symbol stands for, and what it means to identify within every respective category. You should cover areas like gender expression, identity and respecting pronouns, as well as personal disclosure. For example, if a co-worker discloses to you that they identify as queer, do not assume that this is common knowledge. Outing a co-worker without their explicit consent is extremely inappropriate, disrespectful and can cause severe emotional distress. Coming out is a personal journey, and one that everyone should take at their own pace.
Do not ask inappropriate questions, and do not make assumptions or harmful jokes. An example of this would be “you don’t look gay” or “are you sure it isn’t just a phase?” This invalidates the person’s experience and can be very triggering. When someone comes out to you, take their words at face value and do not decide that you know them better than they know themself. Simply listen and provide encouragement. Validating questions can sound like “I’m so happy for you, can you tell me more about how this process has been for you and how I can best support you?
Promote allyship in the workplace, whether you have openly LGBTQ+ staff or not. Offering your stance in support of the LGBTQ+ community can allow employees to feel more at ease, as well as challenge stigmas that still exist today.
Continue to reinforce a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to harassment, homophobia and transphobia in the workplace. If an employee reports any kind of incident in this regard, address it immediately and encourage your staff to come forward with discrimination claims.
Thank you for reading our blog on LGBTQ+ inclusion in the workplace and from all of us at AHCS, we wish you a Happy Pride Month!