Supporting LGBTQ+ Employees and Strengthening Allyship in the Workplace

All employees have the right to feel safe, supported, and included within their organization – regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation.  

When people feel supported by their employers and safe within their organization, it allows them to do their best at their job by fostering a positive work environment conducive to productivity, collaboration, and personal growth. 

Because of the historical struggles the LGBTQ+ community has faced within the workplace and beyond, they look to their employers to ensure that proper support systems are set in place. Whether during their job hunt, learning their new roles, navigating career growth, or dealing with discrimination, inclusivity and acceptance within the workplace play a significant role in mental health outcomes for LGBTQ+ people.   

How can employers provide mental health support to LGBTQ+ employees?

Members of the LGBTQ+ community have endured a history marked by recurring instances of discrimination, violence, and systemic marginalization. And while significant progress has been made in society toward inclusivity and acceptance, it is crucial to recognize that there is still a long way to go.

Though discrimination may be more subtle in the modern workplace, it still exists and can be experienced through microaggressions, unequal access to opportunities, and other systemic biases that hinder the progress and wellbeing of LGBTQ+ individuals.  

Research conducted by ULCA in May 2021 found that 46 percent of LGBTQ+ workers have experienced unfair treatment at work at some point in their lives. Additionally, 34 percent of LGBTQ+ employees have left a job due to treatment by their employer.  

According to the American Psychiatric Association, LGBTQ+ individuals are more than twice as likely as straight, cisgender people to have a mental health disorder during their lifetime, and are 2.5 times more likely to experience depression, anxiety, and/or substance use. Members of the LGBTQ+ community lean on the support and advocacy from their employers to implement inclusivity guidelines and help eliminate discrimination across their organizations. 

So how can employers make sure their LGBTQ+ employees feel supported and safe in the workplace? One way to do this is to provide strong mental health support resources as part of company benefits, and making sure employees are aware of those resources. This can be through an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) or by providing coverage for employees to see licensed professionals such as therapists.  

On a broader level, making digital wellbeing solutions and resources available for employees to access easily and confidentially is a wonderful way to support LGBTQ+ employees.  

LifeSpeak Mental Health and Resilience a product of LifeSpeak Inc., provides employees with expert-led mental health and life skills education through thousands of micro-learning videos and live access to the world’s top experts. It includes specialized content and resources to members of the LGBTQ+ community to help with unique challenges they face in the workplace and at home, such as coming out, and dealing with homophobia. 

Caregivers of LGBTQ+ youth and elderly loved ones

Organizations can also share support resources with employees who are caregivers of someone in the LGBTQ+ community. Caregivers supporting a child or elderly parent coming out for the first time may have questions or require support specific to their current needs. Caregiver support is especially important because it can help mitigate crises and helps keep caregivers employed longer. According to a study done by the Rosalynn Carter Institute in February 2022, close to one-third of caregiver employees have chosen to leave a job at some point because of their caregiving responsibilities. 

Torchlight Parenting & Caregiving, a product of LifeSpeak Inc., offers tailored support to caregivers through education-based learning modules, roadmaps, and guides, and provides expert-created support across many areas of expertise. It offers specialized resources for caregiving to members of the LGBTQ+ community and provides real-time access to concierge services where members can connect with directly with experts.  

Strengthening allyship and building a more inclusive workplace

Signaling allyship with the LGBTQ+ community on an institutional level can go a long way in making a workplace an inclusive space for members of any marginalized community. It also highlights to prospective employees that an organization is accepting of everyone.  

There are a couple of ways employers can open the lines of communication, allowing employees to show up in a way that is most comfortable to them. For example, sharing gender pronouns in email signatures is a simple step in the right direction. While it is a minor change, it conveys a powerful message to both employees and external contacts. It shows that a person is aware and considerate of others’ pronouns, and it signifies inclusion and support, no matter how another person may identify.  

Many companies will signify their allyship toward the LGBTQ+ community by making graphic changes to their branding during Pride Month every June. However, it is crucial to go beyond symbolic gestures and develop a year-round messaging about inclusivity. This should be part of a broader Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) strategy to cultivate a workplace culture where all employees feel accepted. 

 It is also helpful for employers to regularly communicate anti-discrimination policies to employees, fostering a workplace where every individual feels safe and supported when reporting discrimination. Managers and HR personnel play a pivotal role in this process and should undergo training to ensure they can handle reports of discrimination with sensitivity, impartiality, and efficiency. By actively promoting a non-retaliation policy through multiple channels, HR managers can reinforce the message that employees will be protected, and any reports will be thoroughly investigated. This includes maintaining confidentiality and prioritizing the safeguarding of employees who bravely step forward to report incidents of discrimination. 

Ready to bring health and wellbeing expertise to your organization?

It’s incredibly powerful when employers prioritize and support their employees’ mental health while ensuring that all individuals, irrespective of their gender identity or sexual orientation, feel safe, supported, and included within the organization. It not only helps employees perform at their best but also cultivates a positive work environment that fuels productivity, collaboration, and personal growth. 

LifeSpeak Mental Health & Resilience and Torchlight Parenting & Caregiving are two products from LifeSpeak Inc.’s suite of solutions, which strives to deliver whole-person wellbeing to employees and their families, including specialized resources for LGBTQ+ people. Contact us to book a demo and learn more about how LifeSpeak Inc. can have a positive impact on your organization.  

Already have LifeSpeak or Torchlight as part of your benefits? Log into your LifeSpeak or Torchlight [Child or Elder] account to tap into a wide variety of resources for LGBTQ+ support.