Creating a LGBTIQ+ inclusive workplace

Understanding where to start, or how to increase awareness, support and inclusivity in your workplace can be daunting.

The following actions, links and resources form a toolkit which can help guide agencies to becoming a more inclusive workplace focused on supporting LGBTIQ+ employees.

The toolkit has been developed by the whole-of-government LGBTIQ+ steering committee, with help from agencies who significantly progressed on their LGBTIQ+ inclusion journey.

1. Understand your LGBTIQ+ employee cohort

Who are they, where are they located, what issues do they want addressed? Use information available to you: your agency-specific Working for Queensland survey results, other employee surveys, talk to other agencies about their approach and explore what have external organisations put in place.

2. Identify an executive champion or sponsor

A champion or sponsor can:

  • ensure the work is aligned to the agency’s goals
  • gather support for changes and overcome obstacles
  • provides ongoing direction and resources to support success
  • be a visible supporter of your work.

As a rule, this person is usually one who has ultimate responsibility for inclusion and diversity work in the agency, such as a chief HR officer.

3. Engaging allies

Allies are friends or active supporters of the LGBTIQ+ community. The term ally can be used interchangeably for those within the LGBTIQ+ spectrum supporting others, and those who are non-LGBTIQ+.

Allies are agents for positive change, allowing for a diverse and multi-faceted voice for LGBTIQ+ inclusion. Allies can be influential in supporting workplace change and there are many allies within the Queensland public sector.

Here are some simple ways you can engage allies to raise awareness, influence change and create an LGBTIQ+ inclusive workplace:

  • talk to program leaders, executive and chief executive allies about ways they can communicate their support to employees, e.g. regular messaging in existing communication channels, participation in days of significance, through championing LGBTIQ+ networks at events
  • invite allies to LGBTIQ+ network meetings and events celebrating days of significance
  • create opportunities for allies to show visible support by wearing rainbow lanyards or buttons, wearing specific colours on days of significance (e.g. wear it purple day)
  • contact your internal communication representative to discuss options for ally messages to be included in agency updates or e-newsletters, or on your intranet
  • encourage allies to share their stories and engage others to become allies
  • investigate LGBTIQ+ ally learning and development options (e.g. Pride in Diversity trainer program, Pride in Practice conference).

4. Think about structures that need to be in place

What does your agency already have in place, or need? Is it an inclusion strategy, a steering committee, an employee network, an action plan?

Establishing a network

Creating an agency network is one way to bring together employees who are interested in LGBTQ+ initiatives and making a difference in their workplace. Consider who can be a member, how do people indicate interest and how do they opt out, who is responsible for coordination, how and how often will the group communicate. Once you know these things will work you will likely require approval through an executive sponsor.

Establishing an agency LGBTIQ+ steering committee

A steering committee is one mechanism that allows for different voices to be heard and for ideas and actions to be developed and implemented. It can offer value in providing input and advice to address specific issues, including identifying priorities and potential risks. Committee members not only advocate on behalf of those they represent but foster positive communication outside of the committee about progress and activities. Consider developing a business case to support the establishment of a network.

Develop terms of reference

If you are considering establishing a LGBTIQ+ steering committee it will be important to develop terms of reference (TOR) which are important to determine what the committee does, who its members are and how it operates. The Queensland public sector LGBTIQ+ Steering Committee terms of reference (DOCX, 370 KB) provide an example agencies can use as a guide.

Strategy

A strategy is useful in communicating intention and sets down the guiding principles for decision making. The Queensland public sector LGBTIQ+ inclusion strategy 2017–2022 provides agencies with an overarching framework, however agencies with a large workforce may wish to implement their own agency-specific strategy. Queensland Health’s Workforce Diversity and Inclusion Strategy or Department of Education’s Proud at Work Inclusion Strategy <note link provided is internal doc only – seek external agency link or alternate> provide some great agency examples.

Develop an action plan

With a committee and strategy in place you will need to decide what actions to undertake. Using the information from your discovery phase, what do you want to achieve? What do you want to address in your agency? What do your employees want their workplace to be like? What is the work plan to achieve this? Do you have committee and executive sponsor endorsement? How long will it take? What do you need to deliver these actions? Who needs to approve this work?

Actions could include, but are not limited to:

  • establishing a LGBTIQ+ and allies network 
  • raising awareness through training, agency e-newsletters, DG messages, lunchbox sessions, internal events, celebration of and participation in days of significance, creating communities of practice, Teams groups, yammer group or intranet page. A whole-of-government LGBTIQ+ communication toolkit is available to assist with awareness-raising.
  • creating a shared understanding of terminology 
  • reviewing policies and procedures to address issues of accessibility, inclusion, responsiveness and respect

5. Connect with the experts

6. Consider if you need a phased approach

Would some things need to be in place before moving to other priorities?

7. Gain approval

What levels of approval do you need in your agency, from who? Be specific about what is being asked for and realistic about what can be achieved.