Leading LGBTI Inclusion

2 July 2017 By Will Brodie

Image credit: Wikipedia
Image credit: Wikipedia

If your organisation isn’t encouraging LGBTI inclusion, it is losing relevance.

As Harvard Business Review’s Sylvia Ann Hewlett and Kenji Yoshino point out, LGBT-inclusive companies “attract and retain top talent… they win the business of discerning consumers… and they harness the insight of LGBT employees to drive market innovation”.

They are also doing the right thing.

Here’s some suggestions for LGBTI inclusion from the experts, LGBTI people themselves.


PwC surveyed its staff to produce the publication LGBTI Perspectives on Workplace Inclusion. Responses from LGBTI workers were straightforward.

“Ask for people’s pronouns before using it to refer to them.”

“Minimise using gendered language.”

“Have gender neutral toilets, change rooms and shower facilities.”

“Have leaders who act as role models.”

“LGBTIQ+ leaders – be open, proud and set an example."


Aubrey Blanche, head of diversity and inclusion at Atlassian, told Business Insider that creating equal opportunity “doesn’t mean giving everyone the same thing.”

“It’s a silly analogy but my colleague Dom Price is really tall. And so if you treated us equally and we were both trying to get a glass off the top shelf, we would have very different outcomes. If we were both given a stepstool, Dom doesn’t need it but I’m very small and so I do.

“So the way an equal opportunity would work is that I would get a stepstool because that’s the barrier that I have. But if he was trying to do something else maybe I would have an advantage, then he would need support to do that.”


Hult International Business School suggests that the Golden Rule to ‘treat others how you want to be treated’ is not as useful as the Platinum Rule: treat others how they want to be treated.

“Always be considerate and sensitive to the boundaries and expectations of others. A request or activity you may be comfortable with could be in conflict with the values of someone else in your company. 

"For instance, understanding how different cultures perceive a handshake, maintain eye contact or the boundaries of personal space can help to avert misunderstandings.

“When in doubt, ask. If you accidentally cause offence, apologise. Both scenarios are valuable opportunities to improve your own cultural awareness, and your colleagues will appreciate your sensitivity and effort.”


Bella Qvist says leaders cannot assume people know their stance on LGBTI matters.

“A clear message from management about the importance of diversity can help eliminate any doubts as to who or what can be made light of while recruitment processes, training and communications can help make the company's stance clear.”

Writing for Fortune, Michael Bush and Kim Peters suggest the following practical steps a leader can take to deliver that stance:

  • Create employer resource groups for different communities that hold regular events and advocate for diversity awareness
  • Provide training on cultural sensitivity and recognising unconscious bias
  • Use suppliers that also are committed to diversity and inclusion
  • Seek to improve diversity in recruiting and their talent pipeline through partnerships and scholarships
  • The actions of leaders in this sphere have influence beyond the workplace

Beth Brooke-Marciniak, the global vice chair for public policy at EY sums it up: “If the private sector is leading inclusive cultures within the walls of their companies, they can lead the cultural change to create a more inclusive society.”