According to a 2015 Statistics Canada survey, 3% of adults between 18 – 59 years old identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual. This means that workplaces should acknowledge that individuals from the 2SLGBTQQIA+ community (hereafter referred to as LGBT+) will at some point be part of their team!
In 1996 the Canadian Human Rights Act was amended to specifically include sexual orientation as one of the prohibited grounds of discrimination. Even with anti-discrimination laws in place, nearly half of all LGBT+ individuals report employment discrimination in their lifetime, a factor that can contribute to lower health-related quality of life.
Encouragingly, today’s workplace diversity is being brought to the forefront as an important discussion, as it allows for a workforce that can draw strength from various talents and perspectives individuals bring. Recognition of the diversity of sexual orientation and gender expression of employees, clients, customers and members is vital to success in the 21st century.
Impact On Organizations
A diverse workforce builds strength from a wide array of talent, and a broad range of perspectives.
It can help modernize and humanize an organization, building greater adaptability and forward-thinking ideas, while considering the needs of a broader consumer audience. When individuals feel secure in their workplace, with policies that normalize acceptance and positivity, they are more loyal to the organization, and ultimately less stressed.
The benefits of diverse organizations also extend to revenue generation. It allows the organization to function better, drawing better candidates from a broader pool of talent and retain them longer. An organization’s reputation can be improved by demonstrating pro-LGBT+ values to staff and customers, bolstering new business for the organization.
How can diversity inclusion help the workplace succeed?
- A well-managed diverse workforce will reduce costs and generate better profit
- LGBT+ people who are “out” at work don’t need to hide aspects of their identities, making them more confident in business, more productive, more engaged and less stressed
- Consider whether your organization has an external reputation for being open and inclusive for LGBT+ people, especially in terms of recruitment practices
Diversity in itself is not enough, it must be supported by a strong positive workplace culture, where all members feel they can be themselves and realize their full potential.
LGBT+ Health Risks
Every individual, including members of the LGBT+ community, faces different health risks. However, it is known that those in the LGBT+ community face higher risks of mental health issues, like depression, suicidality, and PTSD, due to the detrimental impact of discrimination and socio-economic determinants. Research also indicates they use certain drugs such as tobacco and alcohol 2-4 times more than their heterosexual peers. These are often caused or worsened within the context of the stigma, prejudice and discrimination .
In addition, those in the sexual orientation and gender expression minorities may face increased difficulties in accessing health care for a variety of reasons such as:
- Some health care professionals lack knowledge or training on their needs or hold biased attitudes towards them.
- LGBT+ persons may avoid seeking services because of their past experiences of discrimination or homophobia within the health care system.
- They may be reluctant to share their sexual orientation or gender identity to health care professionals due to fear of victimization or judgment.
- Access to, or quality of, services may be influenced by other socio-economic factors, such as income level, immigration status, or ethnicity.
When LGBT+ patients feel uncomfortable going to health care providers and giving them a full picture of their health, they may face adverse health outcomes as a result, causing negative outcomes in the workplace.
How can organizations better support LGBT+ persons?
- Gain awareness/education of current laws and the rights of the LGBT+ persons
- Examine the potential barriers and update policies to reflect their inclusion
- Create a diversity and inclusion program within your organization to help individuals feel welcome and comfortable, this can include opportunities to self-identify while upholding privacy standards
- Promote local resources such as inclusive clinics and centres
- Collaborate with LGBT+ organizations and charities
- Consider them in the coverage of insurance, such as policies that include gender transition treatments and HIV treatments
How can Novus Health help organizations support LGBT+ persons?
Flexible, confidential and useful health resources for ALL individuals
- The Digital Health Navigation Platform offers reputable content that can guide an individual to appropriate health care and vetted research
- Health Information Specialists accessible by telephone can provide personalized information packages to support members of the LGBT+ community
- Novus Health can support managers, directing them towards customized programs and other services to better equip and educate them
- Every level of the organization can benefit from personalized health coaching
Through dialogue, education, leadership and support, organizations can empower individuals to build workplaces that celebrate all members regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. As the world grows more accepting of the LGBT+ community, it’s key to be among the organizations that understand: equality is good for business.
Check out more health tips on our blog.