Encouraging Respectful Conversations in the Workplace

By Orla McKeating, Business Executive

How can we create an in inclusive culture where there are respectful conversations in the workplace? We had the privilege of speaking at the Encouraging Respectful Conversations in the Workplace event as a part of Belfast Pride 2023. This was a much needed, informative event hosted by The Labour Relations Agency. Our business executive, Orla McKeating joined a panel of voices with various levels of skills, expertise, and experience in diversity and inclusion. There were many takeaways on creating inclusive spaces where often difficult or challenging conversations occur.

A current reality in the UK is that more than a third of LGBTQ+ staff (35 per cent) have hidden that they are LGBTQ+ at work for fear of discrimination and nearly two in five bi people (38 per cent) aren’t out to anyone at work. One in four trans people (26%) aren’t open with anyone at work about being trans. This number increases to about two in five non-binary people (37%) who aren’t out at work.

As society changes and evolves it is up to all of us to create spaces where all people can be fully themselves and where they are celebrated not tolerated. The theme for Belfast Pride is #StandByYourTrans so it is also fitting that we keep our organisations accountable for our trans or transitioning colleagues. This can look like nurturing a workplace where there are the policies, procedures and culture to support this.

There were many conversations at this event around how we create inclusive workplaces where all people feel seen, heard, valued, and supported. How it is not only the right thing to do but it also makes business sense. The sold-out event demonstrated the appetite to become more informed, aware and to do better with all intersectionality’s in the workplace and beyond.  

So how do we create a more respectful and inclusive workplace? Our key takeaways included.

Examine the Work Culture

A good work culture is one where all people can show up as their authentic selves, to a psychologically safe space and where all communications are respectful and trusted. Where there is active listening and action. Ways to measure a good work culture can be staff surveys, 1-1 mentoring or sponsoring and working groups or focus groups.
Updated Policies and Procedures

It is of utmost importance to listen to your LGBTQ+ colleagues and act on how to support them within all policies and procedures. Keep these up to date and be aware of inclusive language throughout all internal and external communications.  
Be Aware of Language

Language can be impactful; it can empower and foster belonging but it also has the power to exclude and offend. Be mindful of the language used throughout the organisation. Implement a zero-tolerance policy on discriminatory or abusive language.

Offer continued Training and Development

Commit to learning and accountability in the workplace. Support local organisations like The Rainbow Project, Cara Friend or Here NI to know more.

If you are new to Diversity and Inclusion in the workplace or if you are facing challenges or barriers please do get in touch with us on the link below. We are keen to support you on your journey to create inclusive, accessible and sustainable workplaces where all people and voices matter.  

Book a call – Diversity Mark (diversity-mark-ni.co.uk)

Useful links:

Home – Rainbow Project (rainbow-project.org)

Cara Friend – Supporting LGBTQI+ People in Northern Ireland (cara-friend.org.uk)

HERe NI – A place for Lesbian and Bisexual Women

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