Does your diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) strategy purposefully and intentionally give your organization the best shot at winning the best LGBTQ+ candidates?  

It should. 

Too often, future-minded organizations give their HR teams a broad mandate to increase diversity, but seldom the adequate tools to accomplish it. 

A major tool that’s missing is your employer value proposition (EVP). 

Hiring is a two-way street. Just as much as you want to know what qualifies a candidate to join your team, candidates want to know why you are qualified to employ them. They want to know your EVP. To attract—and retain—top talent, you need to understand your EVP and how to highlight it. 

Marketing and HR must join hands to craft your EVP, because it conveys to candidates why they should work for you and what your culture offers them. Every generation has its own patterns. Just as marketing professionals must learn the warp and weft of each new audience to tailor ads that suit them; HR practitioners, too, must learn to adapt to their audience—or risk losing a generation of talent. 

So, what is important to LGBTQ+ employees?  

A study by McKinsey found that “stress increases when a person experiences ‘onlyness,’ or being the only one on a team or in a meeting with their given gender identity, sexual orientation, or race.” Furthermore, LGBTQ+ employees reported higher incidences of microaggressions, stronger pressure to “prove” themselves, and greater discomfort talking about their personal lives outside of work. What’s more, a large percentage of LGBTQ+ employees believe that their sexual orientation will negatively impact their career progression. 

How do you jump over these hurdles? Target how you overcome them in your EVP. Address the concerns of LGBTQ+ employees and improve your employer brand at the same time.  

Here are 15 specific, actionable examples of how HR professionals can reinforce their EVP to LGBTQ+ employees: 

  1. Develop an LGBTQ+ benefits guide that lays out:   
  • Same sex and domestic partner benefits (such as healthcare eligibility, FMLA leave policies, and bereavement leave policies).
  • Coverage information for common transgender and intersex surgeries.  
  • Pharmaceutical benefits for hormone replacement therapy and puberty blockers.  
  • Fertility and adoption benefits (including information on egg freezing, sperm banking, IVF, IUI, surrogacy and bereavement leave policies).  
  • Options for mental health care. 
  1. Inform candidates how your company culture supports LGBTQ+ employees (including volunteerism, donations to LGBTQ+ groups, LGBTQ+ ERGs, photos of pride events, employee recognition, and anti-discrimination policies).  
  1. Demonstrate your support of LGBTQ+ employees through your DEI statement and statistics on gender, sexual orientation, and LGBTQ+ community membership.  
  1. Create video content of high-level leadership addressing LGBTQ+ issues. 

  2. Build a timeline or infographic on the history of your organization’s support for LGBTQ+ issues.  
  1. Ask LGBTQ+ employees (especially senior-level employees) to contribute to video cameos highlighting stories on how your organization creates an inclusive environment. Out & Equal’s storytelling toolkit is a great place to start. 
  1. Fund professional development opportunities specific to the LGBTQ+ community (for instance, Out & Equal conference attendance, facilitated sessions, and more).  
  1. Ensure your marketing materials incorporate intersectional and LGBTQ+-inclusive photos and visual elements.  
  1. Collect quotes from LGBTQ+ employees on how the organization has helped them feel supported, seen, and celebrated. 
  1.  Create online spaces with LGBTQ+ visibility (for instance a page on the DEI website or elements on the career page website). 
  1. Commit to year-round social media messaging that highlights meaningful LGBTQ+-inclusive policies and practices (for instance, pronoun usage and HR systems that offer nonbinary gender options). 
  1. Provide recruiters with branded employer swag (e.g., pins, stickers, water bottles) that include the newer, more intersectional “progress” pride flag. 
  1. Establish an editorial review process that involves, or is approved by, LGBTQ+ community members to ensure content is inclusive and avoids tropes, stereotypes, and other traps, such as out-of-date language.   
  1. Actively engage LGBTQ+ ERGs and employee networks in recruiting. Referral programs are a great way to incentivize employees to participate in recruitment; and what’s more, candidates are more likely to view direct employee experiences as authentic and trustworthy. 
  1. Go beyond posting on diversity-centered job boards. Build long-term partnerships with organizations like Out & Equal, Out for Undergrad, and other industry-specific LGBTQ+ professional organizations to build a pipeline of LGBTQ+ candidates at all career levels. 

Maybe most important of all, your HR team can act as a change agent from within and be vigilant that your company’s real practices align with its stated values. You don’t want to find yourself, for example, inviting a nonbinary candidate to an interview only to welcome them to an office that neglects to introduce their pronouns, misgenders candidates, or has no gender-neutral restrooms. What kind of message would that send?  

But above all, HR can’t do it alone. Every department must get on board with your company’s efforts to be an example of its EVP. That means every leader and every employee must know what you stand for—and stand up for it. 

If you want to learn more about how to strengthen your company’s EVP, HR practitioners interested in assessing their gaps between their organization’s LGBTQ+ values and practices should start with Out and Equal’s Global Toolkit for Change