Lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, trans, two-spirit, intersex (LGBTQ+) people as well as people living with HIV/AIDS are two overlapping groups of people that often struggle to find services that are equipped to support their whole selves. This toolkit can be used as a valuable tool to monitor your path to inclusive service provision. This toolkit is informed by our understanding of anti-oppressive practice. We believe that we have to be intentional about interrupting the many forms of oppression that create barriers within our communities. Too many of our policies, practices, and physical environments are taken for granted and viewed through a single lens. We invite you to build on your knowledge of the communities you serve, and how these communities overlap with LGBTQ+ people and people living with HIV/AIDS. It is our hope that this tool will spark important discussions and lead action.
This is a program initially designed for individuals working in healthcare and related fields, however due to requests by local businesses we are adapting the Voices of Value program to suit the needs of for-profit local businesses. LGBTQ+ inclusivity in business is quickly becoming the norm as research on the cost-to-benefits ratio make the decision an obvious choice. Employers recognize that to ignore this key population is to ignore nearly 20% of the population - that number increases if your target market are those under the age of thirty, where less than half identify as straight. Developing inclusivity policies and practices not only reflects an awareness to grow and adapt to the changing cultural climate, but also an investment back into your own business. According to recent surveys, more than 40% of lesbian, gay, and bisexual people and almost 90% of transgender people have experienced employment discrimination, harassment or mistreatment. This is unfortunately true even here in our community of Guelph. This is not only bad for LGBTQ+ workers, it is also bad for business - a recent study by Out Now states that we could save $9 billion annually if organizations were more effective at implementing diversity and inclusion policies for LGBTQ+ staff.
The financial benefits of implementing inclusive policies and practices are diverse and far-reaching. Businesses with explicit LGBTQ+ friendly approaches benefit from increased peace of mind from employees being open and honest about who they are, rather than the startlingly high population that remains closeted, which negatively impacts the health of the employee and the quality of their work. Employers can also benefit from lower legal costs related to discrimination lawsuits as well as lower health insurance costs through the improved health of employees.
Developing inclusive practices can also help promote and grow your business. It’s no secret that publicized discrimination causes even previously loyal customers to leave brands in favour of those more accepting. With the implementation of inclusive policies, the negative public image that comes with incidences of discrimination would be avoided, while attracting more customers who are eager to support socially responsible companies. This is crucial, considering that the number of same-sex households is increasing (80% increase from 2000 to 2010) and the buying power of LGBTQ+ consumers is also rising (~20% increase from 2006 to 2012). Businesses also benefit from increased brand loyalty - with a 2011 survey stating that nearly 87% of LGBTQ+ adults are more drawn to brands with inclusive policies and 23% have actually switched products or services because a different company was supportive of the LGBTQ+ community, even if that brand was costlier or less convenient.
There is no question as to whether moving towards increased LGBTQ+ friendly policies and practices equates to good business, between increased sales and higher stock returns and attracting a wider range of qualified and more loyal employees, the choice becomes obvious.The HIV/AIDS Resources and Community Health outreach team has responded to the articulated need for creating a consistent message and expectation in terms of LGBTQ+ inclusivity in Guelph, which is why we’ve tailored our Voices of Value program to the needs and realities of the business world. We hope that by doing so, together we can create safer, more welcoming communities with easily identifiable icons letting consumers know where those dedicated to cultivating more inclusive spaces are.
This is why we invite you to participate in the pilot training session of this new campaign, as one of the first to be trained in this new program you will set the precedent with other local businesses and organizations. After signing up your business for the program, you will be sent the Voices of Value workbook, which you and your employees fill out together, utilizing the skills and people you already have on hand. From there you will be asked to attend a half-day training session downtown Guelph this November. Upon completion of the training, your business will receive a certificate of LGBTQ+ cultural competency training as well as a branded LGBTQ+ friendly window decal for your business. Additionally, you will be listed on local registries of LGBTQ+ friendly businesses and organizations.
The program is offered free of cost to non-profit service providers, however businesses and other for-profit enterprises are asked to provide a suggestion donation of just $10 per person to HIV/AIDS Resources and Community Health to offset costs and ensure the incredible programming we provide can continue to thrive.
For just a $10 suggested donation you receive:
- a 3-hour LGBTQ+ Cultural Competency Training provided by HIV/AIDS Resources & Community Health (ARCH)
- a designated LGBTQ+ friendly window decal for your shop, business or car
- a certificate of completion for your shop, business, or personal files
- have your business listed on a local roster of LGBTQ+ friendly spaces as well as promoted on monthly newsletters with a large community of subscribers.