Five ways to increase inclusion of LGBTQ+ in the workplace

7 min read | Simon Winfield, Managing Director, Hays UK & Ireland | Article | DE&I People and culture | Recruiting

Hands holding multi-coloured Pride flags

Learn how to encourage and grow LGBTQ+ workplace inclusion for your organisation. Simon Winfield, Managing Director, Hays UK & Ireland, gives us the latest insights.


LGBTQ+ in the workplace: Key insights

I travel a lot for my job. Recently, there definitely seem to be more companies flying the flag for the LGBTQ+ community. Quite literally in many cases – with flags, banners, badges and even cakes all prominently on display in the rainbow colours. 

It’s to be applauded that there’s so much visibility for LGBTQ+ workplace inclusion. But we can’t lose sight of the fact that there’s still progress to be made. We’ve still got to make headway with the issues that really matter to our modern workforce.

To build on your existing LGBTQ+ workplace policy, you could:

  • Understand and support LGBTQ+ employees through their challenges
  • Create a welcoming environment for all
  • Ensure that your support extends to all aspects of LGBTQ+
  • Work to remove discrimination wherever it happens.

Before exploring these more, let’s learn about LGBTQ+ workplace inclusion.


LGBTQ+ in the workplace: Background

As much as LGBTQ+ support in the workplace has come a long way, there is still much more to do. At Hays, we’ve always prided ourselves on being a meritocracy. As recruiters, we understand exactly how beneficial a diverse workforce is for organisations to succeed. 

Recently, we achieved the National Equality Standard. But that was just the start of our journey and we’ve still got lots to do. We’ve also set up an internal LGBTQ+ steering committee to help strengthen the voice of the LGBTQ+ community within Hays. 

Our Hays Pride Network is led by employees – LGBTQ+ and allies – and has objectives in the four areas of environment, people, business and policies. We know that people who can be themselves in the workplace will flourish and be more productive. We’ll always look for ways to continue to make Hays a better place to work for everyone.

One of the founders of the Hays Pride Network, Mike Morgan, is also co-founder of the Alliance Network, a Midlands group which aims to make the Midlands the best place to work for LGBTQ+ professionals. 

But what about companies that are looking to do more? If you are working for a company that doesn’t yet have inclusivity initiatives, here are some suggestions.

1. Start small

If your organisation is at the start of its journey, don’t be afraid to start small. Remember that colleagues may need additional support at any moment. Workers find themselves having to correct their colleagues regarding their personal situation or having to reaffirm the assumptions others make about them. Help them by making small, supportive changes.

2. Present a business opportunity

Make sure the business benefit is very clear in everything you do and say. Make sure your LGBTQ+ inclusion policy is viewed as an essential rather than a “nice to have”.

We spend a large part of our daily lives working. Encouraging people to feel fulfilled and be themselves in the workplace is essential to achieve an inclusive company. You do not have to force or assume; it is simply about creating the right kind of environment.

3. Set up an internal networking group

In the modern work environment, it is no longer just a matter of acknowledging that all workers are equally valid. It is time to show that companies support the LGBTQ+ community and all that this entails. 

A very useful initiative is to promote the creation of internal inclusivity committees. They will be in charge of promoting the acceptance of different identities, which can be made up of both people from within the community and allies.

4. Get a senior advocate

Signs of support can’t be a once-per-year event. At Hays, we like to reiterate that Pride should be celebrated all year round. Participating in demonstrations and joining campaigns can be part of the plan, but companies need to ensure that managers and directors are just as consistent with diversity values.

Get senior advocates involved in your diversity and inclusion efforts. You can also include protocols in HR departments or talks and training on D&I for the whole business.

5. Learn from others

Seek advice and look at how other companies have approached it. They will be diversity advocates so should be happy to share what they’ve learnt and encourage others. If you share an office, consider whether you can join forces during awareness campaigns like Pride.


LGBTQ+ in the workplace: Next steps for your business

As an employer of thousands of people across the UK and Ireland, I strongly feel that we have a responsibility to make a difference. We must do all we can to support the LGBTQ+ community. 

The onus is on all of us to promote LGBTQ+ workplace inclusion. There are plenty of ways that employees can get involved, or even take the lead, depending on their organisation. By working together, we’ll be able to make progress this year and beyond.

You can view more diversity and inclusion in the workplace insights on our website.


About this author

Simon Winfield

Simon joined Hays in 2006, having commenced his recruitment career in 1993. Initially responsible for our businesses in Western Australia and Northern Territory, Simon relocated to the UK in 2014 where he was responsible for our operations in the West & Wales and Ireland, before being appointed Managing Director of the UK & Ireland business in 2018.

articleId- 49101630, groupId- 20151