Five top tips to create a gay-friendly workplace

Small business owners are being urged to ensure their workplace is inclusive of gay and lesbian employees, after large companies dominated a list of the most gay-friendly organisations.


Pride In Diversity, a Diversity Council Australia program, has developed the Australian Workplace Equality Index, which measures the commitment of organisations to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) inclusion.


According to the index, the most LGBT-friendly organisation for 2012 is PricewaterhouseCoopers. KPMG, IBM, Accenture and Goldman Sachs are also in the top five.


Rounding out the top 10 are Lend Lease, the University of Western Australia, Macquarie University, the Australian Federal Police and Chevron.


PricewaterhouseCoopers has held more than 20 LGBT events in the past year, while more than 500 employees have participated in its “Sticks and Stones” diversity training program.


It has also set up a support network dubbed GLEE – an acronym for Gay, Lesbian and Everyone Else.


DCA chief executive Nareen Young says she’s not surprised big companies dominate the list, explaining Pride In Diversity has actively targeted these companies.


However, she says all businesses have a responsibility to become gay-friendly organisations, regardless of their size.


“There’s much to be gained in terms of reputation, recruitment, retention, productivity and market share from ensuring your workplace is… inclusive of LGBT employees,” Young says.


“Progressive employers recognise they need to draw on talent from all sections of the population and create a workforce culture that embraces diversity.”


Young offers employers five key tips:


1. Comply with community standards


“Part of the responsibility of start-ups is to comply with community standards,” she says.


“It doesn’t matter how small a start-up you are… You still have to comply with the law in terms of community standards in Australia.”


2. Communicate


“Communicate widely the importance of having an inclusive workplace. Make it clear that discrimination against LGBT people is unacceptable.”


“Make sure you, as the CEO of the start-up, are very public [in your approach] – walk the talk.”


3. Put it in writing


“In any policies you do have, include [a zero-tolerance stance] to homophobic language.”


4. Consult


“Consult with any LGBT staff on what they want and need.”


5. Extend your support


“Become a member of Pride In Diversity”


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