Advocating for LGBTQ Equality in Your Workplace

If you’re planning to advocate for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer fairness in your workplace, read on to get started, and find out how you can ensure your own protection while you work towards equality.

Identify Allies

In order to gain support for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer fairness in your workplace, it is important to build relationships with the key decision makers in the highest echelons of your company. Start by considering:

  • Who in management will be supportive and who will not? Who is in charge of your employer’s equal employment opportunity compliance? Who will need to sign off on the new policy?
  • Do members of your board of directors work at other employers with inclusive policies? 
  • Is your employer consumer-focused? Does someone in your business focus on diverse market segments, for example in your marketing or consumer affairs department?
  • Does someone in your business focus on recruiting from diverse segments? Are there any internal problems that could impede policy changes?
  • Are you in the midst of layoffs or restructuring? Is the board of directors in upheaval? Are you anticipating a change in company leadership? This information may prove useful in timing your proposal and directing your arguments to the people who can make a difference.

Build Support

Talk to your supervisors about what you are trying to accomplish. Make sure they understand what you are doing and why it is so important to you.

  • Start a dialogue with your human resources department.
  • LGBTQ employee resource groups are an excellent source of information and can provide contacts with other employees who may be in a similar situation. If your company does not have a LGBTQ employee resource group, you may consider starting one to raise the profile of your cause and to seek out allies.

Deliver Your Proposal

Set up a meeting with your human resources department, or someone else who is in a position to make decisions regarding your employer’s policies. Know your company, establish your credibility, create alliances and find help where you need it. Be diligent in following up.

  • If you don’t receive a timely answer, or if the answer you receive is not the one you want, ask for a second meeting and an explanation. If the person you want to meet with will not meet with you, contact his or her supervisor and ask for a meeting. If necessary, take this issue farther up the corporate ladder. In essence, be persistent, professional and mindful of your position within the organization.
  • Don’t get discouraged is there is initial push-back or lack of concern for LGBTQ inclusion.
  • Continue this dialogue as long as necessary, keeping an eye out for new allies that can add to the dialogue along the way. Keep track of trends in the workplace. If you notice relevant and persuasive newspaper or magazine articles about LGBTQ workplace issues, send copies to your management. Offer to answer additional questions and position yourself as a resource in the process.

For further guidance on advocating for LGBTQ-inclusive policies and practices in the workplace, please see:

The Human Rights Campaign reports on news, events and resources of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation that are of interest to the general public and further our common mission to support the LGBTQ community.