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Six Tips to Creating an LGBT-Inclusive Workplace
Friday, June 24, 2016 6:30 AM

With their people-helping-people philosophy and community-oriented values, credit unions have built a reputation for inclusiveness. As LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) Pride Month, June gives credit unions a chance to demonstrate their commitment to acceptance and diversity, especially in the workplace.

Creating a safe space for LGBT employees and members can make your credit union more appealing to a diverse group of employees and a growing market of consumers. Here are six ways to reach this community, which has an estimated buying power of $830 billion, according to the Small Business Administration:

1. Learn the full spectrum

Familiarize yourself with sexual orientation and gender identity definitions to fully understand the spectrum. Simply using the correct terms can go a long way toward making employees and members feel like the credit union is sensitive to the LGBT community.

2. Offer equal benefits

Your benefits package also reflects your credit union’s culture and commitment to diversity. Some health insurance providers leave out or exclude benefits that are imperative to LGBT employees, such as transgender-inclusive health insurance benefits. Talk to a benefits provider about LGBT-friendly plans.

3. Update your policies and live by them

An organization’s policies and procedures outline the expectations it has for its employees. A nondiscrimination or equal opportunity policy is a part of a LGBT-affirming culture. Generally, these policies are provided in an employee handbook or code of conduct. Most Fortune 500 companies include sexual orientation and gender identity within their equal opportunity statements. Check out these sample statements and consult with an attorney about updating policies to include LGBT issues.

4. Provide staff training

Training helps ensure that workplace equality is conscious part of employees’ daily interactions. Providing up-to-date sensitivity training to make employees aware of LGBT issues can reinforce a nondiscrimination policy, as well any anti-harassment policies.

5. Support the community

Public engagement demonstrates that a business has LGBT-inclusive policies and best practices. Philanthropy, sponsorship of LGBT events, and support of legal equality shows the community and employees demonstrates an organization’s commitment and presents an opportunity to build relationships with new members. For instance, United Teletech Financial Federal Credit Union in Tinton Falls, N.J., is donating $25 to a local LGBT charity for every new checking account that opens during June.

6. Be aware of legal issues

Legal issues are rapidly evolving, so check with your attorney to evaluate the legal landscape in your area. Many states, for example, do not protect sexual orientation or gender identity in employment. An overview of your state laws can be found in the State Equality Index.