Home' HR Monthly : June 2018 Contents June 2018 HRM magazine 29
HEAD OF INCLUSION & EMPLOYEE EXPERIENCE, MEDIBANK
The recent postal vote to legalise same-sex marriage placed a
spotlight on the LGBTIQ community, and in turn the workplace.
While 62 per cent voted 'yes', more than a third ticked 'no'. These
are significant numbers for HR leaders and their employees. For
many, it represented a milestone to celebrate; for others the sizeable
'no' reinforced rejection and discrimination.
In 2015, with the backing of senior leaders, Medibank employees
formed an LGBTIQ network called Passion + Pride to find gaps
in workplace policies. Last year, this was extended to providing
LGBTIQ-friendly on-site counsellors and phone-based counselling
for all employees experiencing difficulties during the marriage
equality vote. These services were endorsed and promoted by
Medibank CEO Craig Drummond in employee emails during and
after the postal vote. Any cultural change must come from the top.
True LGBTIQ inclusion has to be as dynamic as the employees it
supports. Medibank strives to be a workplace where all employees
feel safe and supported, regardless of their sexual orientation or
gender. For example, it could be that parental leave policies don't
explicitly include same-sex couples. We can all take the time to
reassess the way we do things.
Barriers to true inclusion can also exist in informal ways.
There are symbols and pictures of Medibank's pride in diversity
around the workplace, and we were one of the first major consumer
brands in Australia to integrate positive LGBTIQ messages and
imagery into large-scale mass media. In 2016, Medibank signed
on as a major sponsor of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras,
and for the past two years we have had an employee and customer
float in the parade.
This also helps Medibank attract diverse talent. We know that
millennials consider the diversity and corporate social responsibility
strategy of an organisation more than previous generations.
As a company, it's about taking a stand and anchoring your
position -- doing what is right and fair. I believe it's the only way to
achieve lasting change for current and future employees. •••
DIRECTOR OF HUMAN RESOURCES, INTERNATIONAL
CONVENTION CENTRE, SYDNEY
Many workplaces are accepting of LGBTI employees, but do not reflect
this in policy and practice, which leads to a true barrier to inclusion.
Research proves LGBTI people spend a lot of energy self-editing because
of the consequences they may face if they bring their true selves to work.
These consequences of being 'out at work' can include being overlooked
when it comes to career progression or a salary increase, to simply being
excluded socially or having ideas shut down.
How HR can assist? Firstly, through awareness. Some employees have
never been exposed to someone identifying as LGBTI. They may come
from a 'straight' background and have been influenced in their thinking
from education or religious background. HR has a vital role to play
in educating the workforce about LGBTI inclusion and the company's
diversity and inclusion practices and programs, all underpinned by
training and education across the organisation.
Secondly, attitude -- some employees are simply not interested in
knowing or asking about LGBTI and other organisational diversity
initiatives. This can cause stigma, social judgement, prejudice and
stereotypes across an organisation due to irrational fears and lack of
sufficient knowledge regarding LGBTI people. Structural facilitators
both internal and external can also impact attitude, such as laws,
policies and institutions. While gay marriage is legal, there is still a
significant proportion of the population who opposed this right. HR has
a role to ensure visibility from the top. A high-profile executive sponsor
can help. A dedicated intranet page and discussion around words at
work, terminology and how it makes people feel, are all great tools to
create an inclusive workplace.
HR departments should undertake a policy review to ensure they are
using inclusive language and also that each policy contains inclusive
rights. Communicate this internally and externally. Make LGBTI
people keen to work with your organisation due to your HR and social
practices, and reflect this in the employer brand. Establish and sponsor
an employee-driven LGBTI network across the organisation to foster a
greater sense of belonging, and networking for both those that identify
and their allies.
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