Employers that aren’t encouraging LGBTQ2S+ inclusivity stand to lose significant amounts of money due to turnover, lower employee engagement and decreased productivity, says Michael Bach, founder and chief executive officer of Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion Consulting Inc.
“The employers making real progress are the ones that recognize the benefit of action and the cost of inaction. It’s just a matter of that willingness to do the heavy lifting. Employers that are still very much in the performative stage are still looking at [inclusion] as a program. It should be part of the fabric of the organization, thinking about your customers and employees through a [diversity, equity and inclusion] lens.”
In order to create a truly safe workplace for LGBTQ2S+ workers, employers need to ensure they have the foundation of an inclusive space, says Bach. This involves making sure policies reference sexual orientation and gender identity, using gender neutral language, educating recruiters and making sure benefits are inclusive of LGBTQ2S+ employees. He adds employee education is also critical to ensure workers know their role in creating inclusivity.
Read: How CIBC is supporting LGBTQ2S+ employees, increasing DEI targets
Once employers start to build an inclusive work environment, they’ll see a return on investment related to their DEI efforts, says Bach. “There are pieces that can be measured that when put together start to form a picture of the ROI. On the diversity side, you would measure the demographics — How do people self identify? How do they identify by level in the organization? Look at performance ratings through a diversity lens to figure out why there may be any imbalances.”
The next step is to run an inclusion survey to gather some quantitative data, says Bach, adding this can can be followed up with focus groups and one-on-one interviews to obtain qualitative data. Companies can then start to tie the data to concepts like voluntary turnover versus involuntary turnover, tenure in the organization and productivity of business units to demonstrate a direct correlation between inclusion and ROI.
“[Once] you start painting the picture of what’s really going on in the organization, you can identify some of the barriers employees may be facing,” he says. “The policies are one thing . . . but what matters is how those policies are enacted. It’s about making sure you’re creating a space where someone can come to work and be themselves.”
Read: Manulife investing $3.5M in workplace diversity, inclusion