The Queensland public sector is committed to supporting all employees, and creating an inclusive and diverse workforce that better reflects the community we serve.
Up to 11% of the population identify as LGBTIQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer) according to the Australian Department of Health.
Research shows that in Australian workplaces:
- approximately 45% of LGBTIQ+ employees hide their sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status at work
- one-third of those expend significant energy hiding their identity
- one in two LGBTIQ+ employees have witnessed homophobia (jokes, harassment or discrimination) at work
- one in six have personally experienced homophobia at work.
LGBTIQ+ employees need to feel safe, valued and supported to bring their whole selves to work.
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For an individual, an inclusive workplace can have a significant impact on their physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. This is especially true for those who continue to experience discrimination, violence, isolation or marginalisation in their personal lives.
For the public sector, the benefits are just as great:
- Open, inclusive workplace cultures create an environment where employees know they will be safe, valued, and accepted. This in turn leads to increased engagement and career satisfaction, and more open and respectful relationships with colleagues – all of which contribute to a high performing sector. Eighty-five percent of LGBTIQ+ employees see inclusion as more important than all other job factors.
- To best serve the community we need to understand and embody its diversity. As a public sector, we have a responsibility to serve and make the best decisions for all our customers, including LGBTIQ+ citizens. Actively recognising the diversity that exists within that community and valuing differing perspectives and experiences, enables a deeper understanding of the community’s needs, creates empathy, promotes new ways of thinking and drives innovation.
- LGBTIQ+ inclusion positions us as an employer of choice. To attract and retain the best talent, the public sector needs to demonstrate genuine inclusion of all diverse groups. And it is not just LGBTIQ+ people that value inclusivity. Our next generation of workers, Gen Y and beyond, increasingly perceive a potential employer’s diversity and inclusion track record as critical.
As the state’s largest and most diverse employer, we are working to ensure we have workplaces that are diverse and inclusive.
The Queensland public sector LGBTIQ+ inclusion strategy provides a framework for strengthening LGBTIQ+ inclusion across the public sector. It builds on the Queensland public sector inclusion and diversity strategy 2015–2020.
The actions and approaches in the strategy build on existing foundations which are already driving inclusion across the sector. These include:
- a cross-agency LGBTIQ+ steering committee to promote and support inclusion initiatives
- an LGBTIQ+ employee network
- sector-wide participation in days of significance and community events
- policies that allow employees in same-sex relationships equal entitlements to leave, including parental, surrogacy and adoption leave, superannuation and domestic and family violence support.
The Queensland public sector LGBTIQ+ employee network provides LGBTIQ+ employees, their friends and allies with opportunities to connect, share information, and foster inclusive and supportive workplaces.
The network operates a mailing list to keep members informed of upcoming events and initiatives and holds networking events or learning opportunities on a quarterly basis.
Towards the end of each calendar year an expression of interest will be circulated, seeking applications from employees to join the Queensland public sector LGBTIQ+ Steering Committee.
A diverse workforce is one of the Queensland public sector’s strengths. Genuinely diverse and inclusive workplaces consistently report higher employee engagement, resilience, productivity and performance, all of which lead to better outcomes for the organisation and its customers.
In 2018, a Rainbow Liaison Officer (RLO) pilot program was launched provide employees with an appropriate internal contact point to discuss LGBTIQ+ issues and concerns. RLOs are employees who have volunteered to become a workplace champion for staff of LGBTIQ+ inclusion. They have completed training by appropriate external bodies to prepare them for the role. RLOs are not counsellors, but offer the role of supporter for employees within the workplace.
The RLO program looked to:
- increase capacity for LGBTIQ+ employees to bring their whole selves to work
- reduce the number of LGBTIQ+ employees indicating sexuality or gender diversity as a barrier at work
- provide employees with a trained contact with access to relevant referrals and resources, with whom they could safely discuss LGBTIQ+ issues and concerns.
Initially two agencies piloted the program, which has since been expanded and adapted it to suite their individual agency needs. All agencies are actively encouraged to consider undertaking a RLO program to further support and engage with their LGBTIQ+ employees.
To find out if your agency has an RLO program, contact your internal HR team. If you are an agency seeking to set up your own program email email@example.com.