We’ve spoken often about the fact that one in five people in the U.S. is considered a caregiver, but what you may not know is that the number jumps to one in four when discussing the LGBTQ community.
Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) are essential aspects of creating a positive and productive work environment. With that in mind, members of the LGBTQ community face unique challenges that require targeted support from organizations. By developing a DEI strategy for LGBTQ employees, especially those doubling as caregivers at home, companies can foster inclusivity and drive success.
Homethrive recently hosted a webinar on DEI Strategy and LGBTQ Caregivers, which you can watch here.
What is DEI Strategy?
DEI strategy is the approach organizations take to promote diversity, equity and inclusion within their workforce. It involves developing and implementing a set of policies and programs that encourage hiring and retaining employees from different backgrounds, including but not limited to race, ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation, religion, disability, and socioeconomic status.
LGBTQ Caregivers: The Difference
According to Human Rights Campaign, lawmakers passed more than 70 laws restricting LGBTQ rights in the past year. They proposed more than 500 bills in total. Several of these laws restricted healthcare for members of the LGBTQ community, putting both their physical and mental health at risk. For caregivers, the struggle to maintain their well-being is already a factor in their day-to-day lives. With the introduction of these new laws, LGBTQ caregivers have even more stressors to contend with on top of their added responsibilities.
Every family is different, and for the LGBTQ community family structure can shift drastically in the event of estrangement. Barriers for having or adopting children both today and in the past means that adults in the LGBTQ community also may not have children to provide caregiving as they age. As a result, instead of having a parent, sibling, or grandparent in the position of caregiver, it can be a close friend or partner. In other words, someone in an individual’s chosen family.
Discriminatory practices among employers, academic institutions, service providers and housing groups mean fewer opportunities and more risks for LGBTQ members. These challenges can affect finances, opportunities or even support for LGBTQ caregivers.
Caregivers in this group may also think about how possible discrimination against them may also impact their loved ones. How might staff at a long-term care facility, hospital or rehab center treat their family member differently if they knew that their visiting child is in the LGBTQ community?
Ways for Companies to Support their LGBTQ Employees
Training and awareness programs on LGBTQ issues can help create a more accepting workplace culture. These programs should educate employees on appropriate language, pronoun usage, and the importance of allyship.
Giving employees the power to form groups in a common area or communication platform can give LGBTQ caregivers and allies a place to connect, share experiences and find support.
Establishing employee resource groups (ERGs) specifically for LGBTQ caregivers can also provide a platform for networking, mentorship and access to relevant resources. This can be a valuable resource for someone feeling isolated by their caregiving responsibilities.
Equal Opportunity Policies
Companies should adopt comprehensive non-discrimination and equal opportunity policies that explicitly protect LGBTQ employees from discrimination in all aspects of employment, including recruitment, promotions and benefits. These policies should be clearly communicated to all employees, emphasizing the organization’s commitment to fostering an inclusive and equitable workplace.
Organizations can also give employees the option to display their pronouns in their email signature or on their internal platforms.
Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs)
Specialized EAPs to address the unique needs of LGBTQ caregivers can significantly support their mental and emotional well-being. These programs can provide confidential counseling, resources for navigating the legal and healthcare systems and assistance in managing stress related to caregiving responsibilities. EAPs can be a valuable resource, promoting the overall welfare of caregivers and improving their productivity at work.
According to findings from Indeed, LGBTQ job seekers said they specifically seek out roles that offer LGBTQ+-specific benefits, such as non-discriminatory healthcare services and providers, diversity training, and benefits for employees’ partners.
Companies should prioritize the development and implementation of LGBTQ-inclusive policies and benefits that address the needs of caregivers. Organizations can implement policies like extended parental leave and flexible work arrangements as well as focus on healthcare plans that cover options like adoption and surrogacies in addition to fertility treatments. By introducing comprehensive caregiving benefits that cover diverse family structures like same-sex partners, transgender children, and chosen families, companies can also take a stand for everyone that may need more support.
Inclusivity in benefits reinforces a sense of belonging and demonstrates a commitment to supporting LGBTQ employees and their loved ones.
Developing and maintaining an updated DEI strategy that specifically addresses the needs of LGBTQ caregivers is crucial for organizations striving to create an inclusive workplace. Embracing diversity and ensuring equitable treatment for all employees fosters a culture of acceptance, respect and belonging—and an environment in which everyone can thrive.
Find out more ways to support your caregiving employees by learning about the benefits that can help.
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