June 7, 2012 — Words matter.
That’s one of the messages of a new “It Gets Better” video by TD Bank (featuring a sincere message from TD President and Chief Executive Officer and 2010 Catalyst Canada Honours Champion Ed Clark) in support of LGBT youth.
As we celebrate LGBT Pride Month this June, we rightfully focus on the achievements and the contributions that members of that community have made to our society and our businesses. But it’s sobering to think that young men and women in schools across this country, and their older peers in workplaces, are still being hurt by cruel words and homophobic jokes.
Look around your workplace. Is there an assumption that everyone’s partner is of the opposite sex? Do people feel that homophobic language is okay? Are strong, smart employees excluded from opportunities and networking because they’re seen as ‘different’?
If so, you’re probably also seeing talented co-workers walking out the door—and not only LGBT employees, but people who want to work in a vibrant, diverse workplace.
Some corporate leaders have recognized that diversity gives their business the edge when competing for top talent and market share. So they’ve implemented human resource policies that include and celebrate the different talents and perspectives that their employees bring to the workplace. They’ve gone beyond signalling a no-tolerance position on discrimination and bullying, to actively seeking advice based on the experiences of their LGBT employees.
Catalyst research offers some guidance on building LGBT-inclusive workplaces. I’m proud that Catalyst member companies score well on LGBT-friendly policies such as domestic partner benefits for same-sex partners and LGBT employee networks. (Note to Catalyst members: Get "Supporting LGBT Inclusion: A how-to guide for organizations and individuals", your practical reference to improve that performance.)
While it’s true that “it gets better”, it doesn’t get better by itself. We all need to become catalysts for change to make it better—for all of us.
If you want to learn more about making your workplace more LGBT-friendly, sign up for the Catalyst webinar on LGBT inclusion on June 26.