The Benefits of Diversity and LGBT Employees in the Workplace

The Benefits of Diversity and LGBT Employees in the Workplace
July 13, 2016 North Jersey Marketing

Ask Lourdes

Volume 3 Issue 8 – July 2016

The Benefits of Diversity and LGBT Employees in the Workplace

By Lourdes Cortez

Diversity and inclusion in the workplace are crucial components for the success of any business regardless of its size. The strength of a business’s team comes not from the uniformity of employee gender, age, sexual orientation, race or religion, but from the incorporation of hard working individuals,  regardless of the categories listed above.

As we conclude our nation’s LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) Pride Month (June), it is the opportune time to recognize and reflect on the beneficial role that diversity and inclusion in the workplace has in shaping the unique culture of a business.  At the forefront of the diversity and inclusion movement is the effort to create a safe environment for members of the LGBT community.

There are an estimated seven (7) million LGBT employees in America’s private sector. A study conducted by Out Now Global states that the U.S. economy could save $9 billion per year if organizations effectively create and manage diversity and inclusion policies.

Furthermore, it is essential to understand the impact the LGBT community has as a consumer group and the effect that they can have on the success of many companies or organizations. There are over 10 million LGBT consumers in the U.S. with the purchasing power of over $800 billion.  Just like other groups’ buying behaviors, an LGBT consumer may be more inclined to support and do business with companies that have a history of supporting their own community.

Small incremental changes to workplace policies can be extremely effective in recruiting and retaining LGBT workers.  Companies should have policies and benefits that are tailored to the needs of  LGBT employees, as well as match those of the rest of the employee population. Also, an employer’s workplace environment should have policies in place stating that all employees are treated equally. Employers should have active diversity and inclusion training programs, as well as provide mentoring  and leadership development opportunities for the business’s entire workforce.

Action has already been taken in an effort to further along this progressive movement. For example, The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has created resources such as the Corporate Equality Index. This provides companies with a road map of policies and best practices related to inclusion.

You can take further actions to ensure that you’re doing your part in aiding the movement towards total equality in the workplace. Ask our lawmakers to put employee laws in place that especially affect LGBT workers. This can clear the way for businesses to maximize their efforts in recruiting the best and most qualified candidates from all backgrounds.

If you want to learn more about LGBT issues, besides HRC, there are many organizations that offer information to help employees and employers improve inclusion in the workplace. These include the National Center for Transgender Equality, Out & Equal and GLAAD, among others.

Organizations that are presently implementing diversity and inclusion policies can look forward to improvements in their business operations. Many companies have gone to great lengths to be progressive and in doing so, have gained a better understanding of the benefits of a diverse workforce.

As we celebrate our independence this month, let’s not forget that equality and inclusion  in the workplace is what being an American is all about.

 


Lourdes Cortez began her professional banking career in 1984 as a representative at the North Jersey Federal Credit Union (North Jersey Federal).  After progressing through several positions, she became CEO in 2005. In the past 10 years, North Jersey Federal’s assets have steadily grown from $171 million to $233 million.  As the first Latina CEO of a major credit union in NJ, not only has Lourdes’ stewardship increased the assets of North Jersey Federal, but her commitment to giving back to the community has been tremendous. As CEO, Lourdes crystalized the credit union’s community involvement with the creation of the North Jersey Federal Credit Union Foundation. One example of the foundation’s work includes building the first student-run credit union in NJ. Other organizations that have received support from the foundation include Autism Radio, Boys & Girls Club, Boy and Girl Scouts, Eva’s Village and the Marines Care Organization.
Lourdes has been honored by NJ Biz magazine as one of the Best 50 Women in Business in NJ, the 2015 Brava Awards from SmartCEO and the 2015 CIANJ/Commerce Magazine Best Practices Awards, among other accolades.  Recently, Lourdes was appointed to the Community Depository Institutions Advisory Council of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve.