Inclusion and respect are important aspects of operating a successful warehouse, and efforts to be accepting should always include individuals in the LGBTQ+ community. LGBTQ+ individuals are statistically more likely to experience harassment and disrespect in the workplace, which is why it is so important for warehouses to be intentional in their inclusion of LGBTQ+ employees. Here are a few things you can do to ensure that your warehouse is a safe and inclusive workplace for LGBTQ+ individuals:
Set an Expectation of Respect
All employees should be required to treat everyone in the warehouse with respect, regardless of their personal feelings about another person’s sexual orientation or gender expression. Employees should be expected to always use the preferred names and pronouns of their coworkers, and this example should be set by the leads and managers at the warehouse. Encourage employees to speak up if they encounter instances of individuals being disrespected in any way.
Establish Protective Policies
Ensure that your warehouse has clear anti-harassment and anti-bullying policies. These policies should be explicitly stated to all employees during their onboarding process, and should also be readily accessible to employees while at work. These policies should specify that harassment of anyone based on their sexual orientation or gender expression will not be tolerated. Specific policies should be put in place to protect LGBTQ+ individuals, such as allowing all employees to use the restroom that is consistent with their gender identity.
Provide a Support Network
Put a system in place for LGBTQ+ employees to seek support at work. Part of creating an LGBTQ+ friendly workplace is making sure individuals have a support network that they can go to with struggles and concerns. Make sure your LGBTQ+ employees know who they can turn to if they are experiencing harassment or disrespect in the warehouse, and give them a way to bring up concerns discreetly and privately if needed. Show your LGBTQ+ employees that you value their safety and comfort at work by taking their concerns seriously and handing out disciplinary action as needed.
Facilitate a Culture of Acceptance
Leads and supervisors should establish a culture in the warehouse that appreciates diversity among employees but still requires all employees to be treated equally and fairly. One way to do this is to be intentional about using gender-neutral language; for example, avoid using the word “guys” to address a large group of people. Not all LGBTQ+ individuals will be comfortable coming out at work, so it is important to maintain a culture of respect and acceptance with ALL employees in the warehouse.
By implementing inclusive policies and setting expectations of respect, warehouses can do their part to combat some of the harassment and discrimination that LGBTQ+ individuals often experience in the workplace. Providing LGBTQ+ employees with resources and a support network can help them feel safe at work, and making sure employees feel safe at work is a key part of operating a successful warehouse.