Embracing Differences and Creating a Culture of Respect and Inclusiveness for LGBT Workers

According to a 2012 Gallup poll in which 120,000 U.S. adults participated, 3.4% identified themselves as either lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT). This means today's workplace is more diverse than ever before; so, learning to embrace differences has become an imperative for organizational success. Therefore, employers are expected to create a culture of respect and inclusiveness in which differences can be embraced, and all employees feel accepted for who they are. And, according to the 2016 Corporate Equality Index (CEI) report from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), some of the nation's largest businesses are doing just that by demonstrating their commitment to LGBT equality and inclusiveness.

Of the businesses which participated in the CEI, 407 received 100% ratings. Some of the top ranked Fortune 500 companies included Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Exxon Mobil Corp., Apple Inc., General Electric Co., AT&T Inc., CVS Health Corp., and Verizon Communications Inc. The CEI report found that "89% of CEI rated employers provide employment protections on the basis of sexual orientation in the U.S. and globally." And "87% of CEI rated employers provide employment protections on the basis of gender identify in the U.S. and globally."

Not only are employer's demonstrating their commitment to equality, but according to a recent Gallup poll, 60% of American's support same-sex marriages. And in 2015 the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriages are legal in all 50 states.

Companies should not only be committed to LGBT equality and inclusiveness because it's the right thing to do, but also because it's illegal to discriminate against LGBT workers. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), LGBT workers are protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex, color and national origin. Although the Act does not specifically state sexual orientation, the EEOC, "consistent with case law from the Supreme Court and other courts, interprets the statute's sex discrimination provision as prohibiting discrimination against employees on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity."

Companies can take steps to demonstrate their commitment to LGBT equality and inclusion in the workplace by:
The HRC provides resources and information for employers on what companies are doing to promote LGBT inclusion.

Deitra C. Payne, Ph.D.

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