A Rainbow Flag Alone is Not Enough: Companies Embrace Inclusive Policies for LGBTIQ+ Employees

In the past, displaying a rainbow flag during Pride was seen as sufficient support for the LGBTIQ+ community within a company. However, times have changed, and the need for genuine inclusion and acceptance has become paramount. Recognising this, companies are taking proactive steps to create a welcoming environment for their LGBTIQ+ employees.

Michiel Kolman, co-chairman of Workplace Pride, experienced the lack of conscious policies for LGBTIQ+ inclusivity in workplaces decades ago. Today, Workplace Pride, based in Amsterdam but with a global reach, works to encourage companies to embrace diversity and ensure that all employees, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, feel valued and at home.

Over the last 15 years, large multinationals were among the first to respond to the need for specific policies aimed at LGBTIQ+ individuals. These policies encompass a range of initiatives, including combating discrimination, implementing inclusive language, providing gender-neutral facilities, and offering confidential advisers for LGBTIQ+ employees.

However, implementing these policies is not always a smooth journey, and progress varies across industries and sectors. In the legal profession, for instance, the interests of LGBTIQ+ individuals may not always be a top priority. Chris Noordam, chairman of the FORWARD Foundation, advocates for acceptance, recognition, and visibility of LGBTIQ+ people within the legal sector.

Noordam explains that diversity and inclusivity must become the norm, just like any other facility provided for employees. FORWARD started its efforts in prominent offices, particularly in Amsterdam, and now aims to extend these policies to the rest of the UK.

Developing and implementing inclusive policies is an ongoing process that may take around ten years to complete. To gauge progress, Workplace Pride conducts an annual benchmark study to evaluate companies and government institutions on various inclusion-related points.

According to Michiel Kolman, this emphasis on inclusivity has become a crucial aspect for companies, universities, and government institutions. Participating in the benchmark study and scoring well reflects how seriously organisations view the subject of LGBTIQ+ inclusivity.

Companies that genuinely prioritise their LGBTIQ+ employees reap rewards beyond just compliance. Embracing inclusivity makes them more attractive employers, as individuals seek workplaces where they can feel genuinely seen, heard, and accepted.

As the global landscape evolves, more organisations are recognising the significance of creating a truly inclusive environment, signalling a positive shift towards a more inclusive and accepting world for everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

This text was adapted from the original piece written in Dutch by Richard Hogenkamp from https://www.intermediair.nl/emancipatie-en-diversiteit/inclusiviteit/een-regenboogvlag-maakt-je-geen-lhbti-inclusieve-werkgever