September 13, 2019

Open for Business: Developing a Welcoming and Compliant Workplace for LGBTQ Employees

For the past decade or more, and on its own initiative, the American business community has led the way on building diverse workplaces that welcome LGBTQ employees. In many instances, the law has lagged behind most large employers’ policies, slowly – and sometimes not at all – catching up to Corporate America’s pace car. Employers bested lawmakers in recognize that welcoming, diverse workplace cultures help drive business, engage customers, maintain healthy and happy employees, and reduce the risk of employment-related claims. In Canada, the law has already protected LGBTQ employees for decades.

Going beyond mere compliance means demonstrating desire and investment in developing a welcoming and compliant workplace for LGBTQ employees. Compliance is the foundation, but it is not alone sufficient to attract and keep talent in a pluralistic society with increasingly welcoming attitudes toward LGBTQ employees. Employers should mine the labor pool for talent wherever it may be found and refuse to allow attitudes about irrelevant immutable and social traits to dominate recruitment and employment policies and practices.

This panel first aims to guide employers on the current state of the law with respect to nondiscrimination and nonharassment of individuals who identify as LGBTQ. It will then offer practical guidance for employers to mitigate the risk of discrimination claims by LGBTQ persons and to, in a culturally sensitive manner, investigate and respond to claims of discrimination made by LGBTQ employees. Finally, the panel will move beyond compliance to offer tips on building a workplace culture that embraces diversity, equity and the full inclusion of LGBTQ employees in everyday workplace culture.