Dr. Colleen Batchelder

3 Ways CEOs Can Support their LGBTQIA+ Employees

crop unrecognizable black man wearing lgbt ribbon on arm

Are you looking for ways to support your LGBTQIA+ employees? If so, answer this question:

What’s the first thing that pops into your mind when you think of the word “inclusive”?

Maybe it’s a rainbow flag, a Pride Parade, or simply a move towards employee representation.

But I want to encourage you to look further than your boardroom and your Equal Opportunity Employment requirements.

Being inclusive is more than a shift in your branding.

Most CEOs, when they hear the word inclusive, immediately think of their company. They might survey their team, look at their marketing, and even increase their optics on social media and in print. However, none of these decisions do anything to increase inclusion. If anything, they do more harm than good.

Creating an inclusive workplace is not about jumping on an agenda or being the standard of tolerance with your genre.

It’s more than virtue signaling.

If you want to support your LGBTQIA+ employees, they need to know that your concern is centered on compassion; not manipulation.

So, what are some practical ways that you can provide support for your LGBTQIA+ employees? Here are 3 ways that you can start this month.

Related: 5 Simple Ways Companies Can Create Safe Spaces

Invite People to Be Themselves

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Photo by 42 North on Pexels.com

If you want to be supportive of someone, you need to know more than their name, their job title, and pronouns. These are basic facets that make us human. Support requires you to delve deeper. And this means that you need to talk with your team more than once a year at their annual review.

If you want to let your LGBTQIA+ employees know that you are there for them, then be willing to get to know them.

People need to feel like they are known. And one of the best ways that you can do that is to pay attention to how they want to be seen. Remember, it’s not about what makes you feel accepted. It’s about respecting someone else’s life enough to place yourself in their shoes.

So, invite your team to be themselves. Ask your employees to speak, sing, or pantomime at the next meeting. Whatever they like to do, give them the chance to showcase their abilities and be a part of the culture at work. Invite them to bring their whole selves to work and give them opportunities to be celebrated.

Related: 3 Ways to be a Kick A** Leader Who Lives A Balanced Life

Put Yourself in the Hot Seat

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Photo by Matheus Bertelli on Pexels.com

One of the easiest ways that you can learn more about your team is to share about yourself.

Yep. That’s right. You need to place yourself on the hot seat, be willing to be a bit vulnerable, and invite your team to get to know you. People like to cheer for the underdog. So, if you admit that you’re a leader willing to learn alongside your team, you open the doors of communication and equal support.

Now, putting yourself in the hot seat doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to stand in front of your office and pull questions from a fishbowl. But you can, if that works for you.

This meet-and-greet is about you, your business, and what works best for your specific work environment.

If you’re a casual startup, have a craft beer night after hours, share a bit about yourself, and reveal one area where you hope to improve in your leadership. If you’re a high-end financial company, host a get-together with some wine and cheese. Figure out what works best for your team and then create an event that makes them the most comfortable.

Related: 4 Things to Check to Create an Inclusive Company. Number 3 Might Surprise You.

Stumble towards Progress; Not Perfection.

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Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

You won’t always get it right, say the perfect thing, or create an environment that supports every employee. But, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try––If anything, you should try hard.

Your LGBTQIA+ team members don’t expect you to get it right all the time. But they do expect their workplace to be a safe space––even if you’re learning what that exactly means. So, if you want to support your LGBTQIA+ employee, remember these 3 tips:

  1. Invite People to Be Themselves
  2. Put Yourself in the Hot Seat
  3. Stumble towards Progress; Not Perfection

If you’re willing to start here, you’ll be able to work towards creating a company that is safe and successful.

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As a Leadership Strategist, Diversity and Inclusion Consultant, Executive Coach, and National Speaker, I help leaders create companies where Millennials and Generation Z want to work. My doctoral background in leadership and global perspectives also gives me an added edge because I approach generational dissonance from all directions, including from an anthropological, theological, sociological, and ethnographic lens.

Check out some articles that I’ve written for publications.