Everyone in your workplace has a story to tell. We love incorporating storytelling into our training, and it’s especially important when it comes to learning about diversity, equity, and inclusion. DEI training is more than just covering your bases legally—it’s a shift in the way we think about our colleagues and their stories. 

Typically, DEI training revolves around race, ability, and religion, but LGBTQIA+ stories are just as vital to building an open, comfortable, and healthy workplace. Don’t make the mistake of glossing over sexual orientation or gender identity when building your DEI training. Without full inclusion, you’ll miss out on the full spectrum of diversity that makes your team’s story so unique. 

The importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion training 

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) training teaches employees the healthiest way to work together. It acknowledges that employees come to the table with different backgrounds and stories, and those stories can be influenced by everything from race to ability, socioeconomic background, religion, and all of the things that make each team member a unique individual.

By building DEI training into your workplace culture, you promote a space that is safe for all team members, working to remove unconscious bias that could negatively impact your employees and their chances of success. 

Everyone wants the chance to excel at work. DEI training removes the social barriers that could put limitations on team members’ accomplishments with your organization. 

The role of sexual orientation and gender identity in DEI training

Some organizations approach DEI training as a checklist to get through. Once the main issues of race and disability are highlighted, they’re checked off and everyone can get back to work. But DEI training doesn’t stop at the classroom door. DEI issues affect everyone, all the time. Each and every team member experiences something that could make them feel excluded at work. When DEI training only covers visible diversity issues, you’re missing out on a huge portion of workers affected by inequality every day. 

According to a Gallup poll, only 17 percent of LGBTQIA+ workers felt like their employers cared about their well-being, and when sexual orientation and gender identity are ignored in the DEI conversation, it’s easy to see why that number is so low. Members of the LGBTQIA+ community might experience discrimination at work and lack the resources to report it, much less have the opportunity to participate in DEI training that includes their stories. 

By including LGBTQIA+ stories and experiences in your DEI training, you’ll:

  • Set clear expectations and guidelines for language, communication, culture, and inclusion when working with those in he LGBTQIA+ community
  • Promote a more inclusive workplace culture where LGBTQIA+ individuals feel safe to perform at their best
  • Ensure compliance to existing employment and discrimination laws

Frequently Asked Questions

In today’s world, fostering an inclusive workplace that respects and celebrates diversity is not just a goal; it’s a necessity. As we navigate the evolving landscape of DEI, recognizing and embracing the various dimensions of diversity, including sexual orientation, is of paramount importance.

This section aims to provide clarity and guidance on how to effectively integrate discussions of sexual orientation into your DEI training initiatives. Whether you’re an HR professional, a trainer, or an employee, we hope these answers will help you on your journey toward creating a more inclusive, respectful, and supportive work environment for all.

  • Sexual orientation is related to the gender to which a person is attracted. It is different from gender identity or expression, which revolves around the innate sense of gender a person feels, which may or may not be the same as the one they were assigned at birth. Both should be considered in DEI training.

Designing effective DEI training: incorporating sexual orientation and gender identity 

We’re excited that so many of our clients are ready and willing to rethink their DEI policies and training, particularly when it comes to including the LGBTQIA+ community. We’ll be the first to admit that it can be a big job, particularly when it comes to unpacking decades of policies and training that once excluded those outside of the cisgender, heteronormative sphere. 

Simply acknowledging that things need to change and your current DEI training doesn’t cover all the bases is the best first step to designing more effective, inclusive training that really makes a difference in how employees work together. Here are your next steps as you continue on your journey. 

Use clear and concise communication

Training should offer real, actionable solutions and create pathways for change. As with all DEI training, clarity should be one of the most important factors in building policy and educating employees. Clarity is your most effective tool in setting expectations and ensuring everyone is on the same page. When including language on sexual orientation and gender expression or identity, ensure that you set clear guidelines that confront unconscious biases and avoid virtue-signaling. 

Include real-life narratives 

Whenever possible, solicit input from those within the LGBTQIA+ community as you create your DEI training. Real-life narratives build empathy and create bonds between team members as they share their stories. 

DEI training for sexual orientation and gender identity should be administered and facilitated by a member of the community who is experienced in educating others about inclusion. As team members learn from each other, they build connections and see the real-time effects of changing the way they speak, act, and include others at work. 

Engage leadership

No change in your DEI approach can happen without complete buy-in from your leadership. Change happens from the top, which means leadership must model the behavior they want to see in employees. 

Struggling with C-suite buy-in? Remind leadership that DEI isn’t only a “nice-to-have” feature but a true business function that affects the organization’s bottom line. 

Employees that feel safe and included are more likely to function as contributing, successful, and empowered leaders themselves. 

Check existing training and communication for biases

New training is all well and good, but if your existing training and communication has lingering unconscious biases, it could undo all the good intentions you have for LGBTQIA+ inclusion and diversity training. 

Take your company dress code, for example. It might use gendered language that excludes trans, nonbinary, or gender-fluid team members. Before you deploy new training, go through your communication and policies with a fine-tooth comb to ensure that they don’t take away from your DEI efforts. 

Create opportunities for allyship and advocacy 

It can be difficult for those outside the cishet sphere to put themselves in the shoes of their LGBTQIA+ coworkers. Creating scenarios and opportunities for team members to advocate and actively look for ways to invite and include can help create a stronger bond and learn how to act in different situations. 

You can build scenarios into your training or use role-playing as a way to test different solutions in a safe space. As employees become more comfortable advocating in training, they’ll be empowered to speak out for their coworkers in real-life scenarios, too. 

Navigating legal considerations and compliance in DEI training

It’s important to not oversimplify the risk that a lack of DEI training can have on your organization. Some organizations rely on broad statements and training to cover diversity under the HR umbrella and simply protect the company from legal action. 

The truth is that the legal landscape surrounding diversity and inclusion is always changing and it’s not enough to make blanket statements. Instead, regular reviews of laws and regulations can help you build training that focuses on inclusivity as a tool for compliance.

It’s important that your organization’s overall culture supports diversity, but getting into the specifics might require outside counsel to stay up-to-date on your state’s laws and policies. We can help you do both by working with our DEI officers to help you build a more inclusive company mindset while remaining mindful of issues like benefits packages, hiring policies, and required implicit bias and diversity training. 

Unlocking Inclusivity: The Key to Better Training

Your LGBTQIA+ team members want to be successful, but past policies and discriminatory language leaves them operating at a disadvantage. Even if you’ve done the work to create DEI training, it’s important to remember that there is no equity without everyone. If your policies still leave some of your employees out of the conversation, it’s not complete—yet. Advocate for LGBTQIA+ employees, and encourage them to be their true selves in and out of the office.