Open, Honest, but most importantly – Authentic

As business leaders and HR professionals, we often encourage ‘open and honest’ communication. However, I think there’s one important factor we’re missing – authenticity.

Diversity and Inclusion has never been more paramount, and it is now imperative to ensure your workforce reflects the society in which we live in. I’ve taken the time this Pride month to learn more about LGBT+ issues in the workplace, and at HR Star we are committed to further developing our diversity and inclusion strategy. I was shocked to read that 25% of the LGBT+ community are not out at work, and even more horrified to find that 62% of millennials and Gen Y go back into the closet when they join the world of work. As an open member of the LGBT+ community, I can relate to how mentally exhausting this can be, and as a HR professional, I can appreciate the impact this has on an employee’s work.

Some may question why people need to ‘come out’ at work. It’s their personal life? It doesn’t affect their ability to do their job well.
I would argue that it is vital to encourage people to feel comfortable to come out to their colleagues. Research shows that LGBT+ members are 32% more productive at work when they are open about their sexuality – and I can see why.
Imagine going into the office on a Monday morning, and dreading the question, ‘how was your weekend? What did you get up to?’. Second guessing your every comment and the pronouns that you use, replacing ‘girlfriend’ or ‘boyfriend’ to simply, ‘friend’. It is draining and prevents you from forming close and meaningful relationships with your peers. These relationships are key to successful teamwork, open and honest communication, and creating a happy and supportive workforce.

In which case, if you’re reading this and you’re a business leader, director, manager, or even a colleague, I ask you to become an ally for the LGBT+ community.

What does being an ally involve? You might ask. Or, why should I be an ally?

Being an ally to your LGBT+ colleagues helps create an environment where everyone can feel included and can be their authentic selves. If you can openly commit to supporting others, learn more about the challenges they may face and the experiences they have had, you can confidently say that you believe in equality, and inspire change in the workplace. Challenge homophobic language avoid making assumptions and replace ‘wife’, ‘husband’, ‘girlfriend’, or ‘boyfriend’, for ‘partner’. Tune in to what your colleagues are saying – perhaps they’re reaching out to you, listen to the tone in their language and the pronouns they are using.

Being an ally can be empowering. Being ‘out’ in the workplace, can be empowering. Authenticity is empowering.
And empowered employees make for confident, successful, and productive members of your organisation.

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