Best Practices For Creating a Welcoming Workplace For LGBTQ Employees

Best Practices For Creating a Welcoming Workplace For LGBTQ Employees


As the number of “out” professionals continues to increase, it is vital that companies have LGBTQ-friendly workplaces to ensure employee satisfaction and business success. In addition to satisfaction, a 2020 McKinsey report indicates that diverse organizations outperform less-diverse competitors in both profits and revenue.  

These practices do not just appeal to LGBTQ employees or clients, but are recognized by all stakeholders. For example, 72% of allies say that all else being equal, they are more likely to accept a job at a company that is supportive of LGBTQ employees than one that is not supportive (The Center for Talent Innovation).  

Regardless of someone’s sexual or gender identity, inclusive policies indicate a welcoming environment and an organization that is invested in supporting their employees fully. Read on for LGBTQ workplace best practices:   

Policies & Benefits 

One of the most impactful ways to acknowledge and support LGBTQ employees is through inclusive policies and benefits. These are vital for signaling values and support of LGBTQ employees. The best practice for inclusive health insurance includes coverage for transgender individuals, same-sex spouses, same-sex partners and domestic partners. The most inclusive companies support LGBTQ-specific medical care, including gender transitioning, in their insurance coverage.  

Other policies that should reflect the needs of LGBTQ employees are parental leave and bereavement leave, both of which should include same-sex and domestic partners in their coverage. Additionally, employee handbooks that include gender-neutral language, such as they, them, theirs, themselves and siblings, parents, as opposed to catch-all terms such as he/she, him/her, and include gender-neutral dress codes help to create spaces that welcome all employees.  

Non-discrimination policies should include explicit protection against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. As The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) says, this language “ensures equal treatment for LGBTQ employees and sends a welcoming message to LGBTQ job applicants”.   


LGBTQ diversity training is important for ensuring that all employees, and company leadership, have shared knowledge of terms and concepts. In all organizations, employees have varied familiarity with what comprises an LGBTQ inclusive workplace and why it is important. A good place to start is with a review of key terms, definitions/ examples of inclusion across the wide spectrum of sexuality and gender identities, and how to address homophobia and transphobia. The HRC has ample resources available for LGBTQ diversity training.  


Creating an LGBTQ network, affinity group, or employee resource group (ERG) to support LGBTQ+ employees at your workplace can go a long way to develop a sense of community and belonging. With the establishment of a specific ERG, employees are made to feel safe and seen within their sexual identity and feel safe being “out” in the workplace. These groups signal inclusivity to perspective employees and clients, and make current employees feel recognized and supported.  

Finally, the addition of gender pronouns in email signatures and business cards, as well as making all single stall bathrooms gender-neutral have become increasingly common. Both of these actions recognize the full spectrum of gender and create a safe workplace for gender-neutral, gender-nonconforming, and transgender people.  


LGBTQ inclusive workplaces lead to greater employee and customer loyalty and are better able to attract and retain top talent. These efforts are crucial even if there are no “out” members of your team or company, as 46% of LGBTQ employees have not disclosed their identity to employers. Additionally, non-LGBTQ people overwhelmingly prefer a diverse and welcoming workplace. With all of this in mind, it is clear that creating a safer and more inclusive environment for LGBTQ people in the workplace is impactful for employees and stakeholders alike. 


Additional Resources:

SHRM: Ensuring Workplace Inclusion for LGBTQ Employees 

Pride at Work 

Out & Equal

National LGBT Chamber of Commerce