What has your business done to protect LGBT employees?
Human resources is responsible for an array of tasks, and one of their biggest expectations is to provide a work environment that promotes equality, regardless of ethnicity, age, gender or sexual orientation.
The debate of sexual orientation has been ongoing, even though there are many workers who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT). In recent years, the government continues to pass legislation to protect this population, which in turn forces employers to respond to these new laws.
Last year, the Supreme Court ruled the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional. In 2014, the Violence Against Women Act was extended to the LGBT community. Another ruling came down in favor of gender neutral bathrooms.
"It's important for people to have equal rights in society and if some people are granted the right to have their sex and certain benefits that go along with that, then why shouldn't everyone have that right," Norrie told ABC News on the ruling for gender neutral bathrooms. "Why should people be left out because they're not seen as male or female?"
Employers who wish to respond to these laws can access information through HR software solutions. As long as the human resources department creates pages for these policies or other widespread changes, workers have a place to see the most up-to-date information.
Regardless of a company's stance, its HR software portal should be completely up-to-date at all times. This reduces confusion within the organization, as well as have a policy that corresponds or goes against some of the unique laws that state legislation have passed.
For example, Texas and California have differing stances on gender discrimination, according to reports from Al Jazeera. "Texas has no protections for employees on the basis of gender identity," the articles reads, while California "outlaws discrimination on the basis of gender, gender expression and gender identity." Although this specific protection applies to the Golden State's education network, human resources has to be aware of these mandates.
Why is it important for employers or human resources to be mindful of these local or nationwide laws? Because these policies can boost employee morale, which in turn affects retention. Especially for LGBT employees, who may feel pressure to hide a part of themselves, these updated policies can make a huge difference.
"I think the key point for HR is that new categories of difference, when they come into the workplace, initially can create a fuss but the pre-existing responses – namely, we embrace difference and we don't make decisions in relation to the workplace based on differences of gender – still remain the correct response," Tim Capelin, a partner at Piper Alderman told HR Magazine.
HR software solutions can serve as a great place to discuss possible adjustments because it is a system that all workers have access to. Establishing these grounds might be difficult at first, but doing this in advance can reduce confusion among staff members in the future. Whether that be a response for a sexual harassment or any work-related concern.
Employers have an obligation to create a safe work environment for their employees, and should be aware of all relevant laws.