It gets better for LGBTA on Bay Street:
(Toronto, 16 June 2011) As the internet wave of It gets better videos supporting young LGBTA continues, it’s important for Canadians of all generations to know that “it gets better” right here on Bay Street, too, EY says.
“Businesses have made great strides around the challenges lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people — and their allies (LGBTA) — face in the workplace,” explains Uros Karadzic, EY Senior Manager and leader of the firm’s Beyond network in the Greater Toronto Area. “Today, Bay Street offers some shining examples of the ways we’ve worked together to break down barriers, and open opportunities up to people of all backgrounds, ethnicities, genders and orientation. Being out on Bay Street today is much better than even five years ago.”
Still, Karadzic says there is always more that can be done. “We’ve made a lot of progress, particularly in the last five to ten years. Our programs have helped people recognize diversity and inclusiveness are business drivers that empower organizations to think creatively, and deliver innovative results for their clients. And we remain committed to these activities and policies to ensure that it’s always getting better.”
EY offers some practical suggestions on how businesses can do the same:
- Help people connect. Establishing an employee resource group is a good first step for generating an honest dialogue and a welcoming environment. Ensure these groups have executive support from the top.
- Make it the way you do business. Encouraging diversity within work teams helps address client and customer needs in innovative ways. Many Canadian companies are establishing policies to look for diversity in their suppliers.
- Think in reverse. Reverse mentoring — when an LGBTA employee pairs with another individual within the firm — offers both the chance to learn about one another’s realities, and see how they can work together to change attitudes and practices.
- Talk. It’s not cheap. Internal communication encourages employees to “just ask” questions about LGBTA challenges, and helps bring these issues to light for those who might not realize how others may be marginalized. Hearing the CEO comfortably use the words gay and lesbian changes the work culture.
- Break it down. Don’t be afraid to explore whether specific demographics need additional support navigating LGBTA workplace issues. For instance, perhaps women are self-identifying less than men in your organization — what causes those barriers and what can be done to change that? Or, are you finding that Generation Y employees relate well to more senior role models or would an alternate style or approach be more effective?
- Get diversity on the scorecard. By building diversity metrics into the way we evaluate our people, you ensure everyone is working toward improving the big picture, not just around LGBTA, but on the company’s overall inclusiveness efforts.
- Take your message to the streets. It’s not enough to tell your employees the business supports an open workplace. You’ve got to show them and help lead the change in the business community. That means participating in external networking and leadership activities that demonstrate how your company walks the talk.
To reach a spokesperson who can provide further insight and ideas on building a more LGBTA-inclusive workplace, please contact: