Diversity Training on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Issues

Filed under: Workplace

With the an increasingly diverse workforce and consumer market, and the rise of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer workforce over the last decade, many employers struggle to help their established workforce adapt, and furthermore to bring new staff into the organization's culture.

In a 2006 Society for Human Resource Management survey, 76 percent of HR professionals indicated that their organizations provided training on diversity issues. SHRM broke diversity training into several categories: anti-discrimination training, diversity awareness training, cutural awareness training, diversity management/leadership training, diversity knowledge/skills-based training, or dimension-specific workshops. SHRM also broke down what employees underwent training: top-level executives, non-executive managerial employees and nonmanagerial employees.

The HRC Foundation's records show that more than half of the Fortune 500 provide some form of diversity training that includes sexual orientation, and most of all the employers that prohibit discrimination based on gender identity have some form of related diversity training.

Number of Employers with Diversity Training that Includes Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity or Expression
  Fortune 500
Sexual Orientation 258
Gender Identity or


Apart from having an inclusive equal employment opportunity or non-discrimination statement, employers need to communicate these policies to all of their employees. But, in doing so, many employees will require guidance with basic information:

  • Who does this affect?  The non-discrimination policy applies to everyone, including employees, job applicants, customers and clients.
  • What are we talking about?  What do the terms "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" mean?  How do those terms apply to everyone?
  • Why does the business care? Explain the business rationale.  For example, "we want all employees to feel safe and comfortable so they can be productive." What laws come into play?
  • How does this affect us?  How should we acknowledge people who differ from ourselves on these characteristics?

Preferably, most diversity training is done proactively, and many employers opt to go into greater depth with managers. However, employers may find an issue arise within a particular worksite or workgroup that requires follow-up.

Diversity Training