Updated: Jun 20
It’s Pride Month and everyone has changed their logos to rainbow.
It’s not even needed any more.
Unfortunately, this is not the case. Not even remotely.
Even an industry such as our beloved Hospitality industry that has a higher proportion of LGBTQ+ workers than other sectors, and is broadly viewed as open minded has it’s issues.
A recent report by One Fair Wage showed that whilst 1 in 5 workers identify as LGBTQ+ , they also faced higher forms of sexual harassment, homophobia, and transphobia than their non-LGBTQ+ peers.
Workers often have to tolerate abusive employers and customers
According to the report 82% of LGBTQ respondents reported witnessing or experiencing sexual behaviours or comments with 72% of this number reporting that this harassment made them consider leaving their jobs.
What Can You Do?
Given the staff shortages and the need to enhance the industry’s image as an employer of choice, Hospitality industry must work to prevent both homophobia, and the fear of homophobia.
It is common knowledge that, as a good Hospitality leader, you should begin by working in partnership with your team.
You must be on the lookout for subtle changes in behaviour that could suggest someone is struggling with either their sexuality or bullying within the workplace.
This could present itself as a dip in performance of an otherwise high performing individual or periods of absenteeism.
Clearly, these could be systematic of other issues too, and you will need to be careful with how they approach them.
It’s important to emphasise that you don’t need an official complaint to act.
Everyone in your team, including yourself, needs to understand that you and they have a duty of care to raise concerns.
Creating that culture should begin whatever the situation. But it is also important that a formal note of any incidents is kept.
To begin your journey to preventing homophobia in the workplace, you need to make it clear that you will support employees irrespective of their sexuality. But also skin colour, gender, age, beliefs etc.
You do this by initially building a sense of enablement among your team and secondly by setting not just a benchmark of behaviour which is better than previously, but is industry leading.
Organise An Event
Pride month is a fantastic opportunity for organisations to show solidarity with the LGBT community.
But you need to do more than recolour your logo.
Maybe organise an “event” to spread the message that LGBT people should be celebrated.
An event doesn’t have to be a physical gathering, it can be a product or service offering, an internal campaign; all sorts. But it has also got to extend beyond Pride weekend.
When Banter Is No Longer Banter
The biggest area that organisations need to tackle is that of the “workplace banter.”
Whilst nobody is suggesting you should police fun or rule out the lighter side of a Hospitality establishment, the banter can make someone feel like they are being bullied.
Under the Equality Act 2010 banter may not be unwanted previously but can become unwanted and so employers don’t conclude that if an employee has previously put up with, or joined in with banter, then the conduct isn’t unwanted.
An unambiguous message must come from the leadership team around the importance of diversity and offer clear guidelines about what is, and what isn’t, acceptable.
Hiring & Training The Right People
A friend of mine once said “The fish rots from the head” and this, in my experience, is true.
It all starts with leadership and it is important that you hire the those who have the right mix of skills to manage people, personalities and processes.
Those who become managers by accident or fall into the role without any support or training, can have a negative impact on addressing issues around equality.
Support for those in leadership and supervisory roles should be where initial action is put in.
Training then for the rest of the team is obviously the key, and it is important that a robust coaching programme is in place.
There are also other actions you can take, such as creating an environment that is accommodating, by installing gender-neutral toilets.
You can also encourage employees to attend local LGBT networking events, sponsor a Pride party or welcome speakers to share their experiences. All of which creates the right environment.
Measuring results through anonymous surveys will not only create the culture that this is important, but allow you to track positive changes and identify areas of concern.
There are many opportunities for hospitality organisations to promote diversity and prevent homophobia.
Change, of course, may not be immediate, and this must be allowed for in the same spirit of tolerance.
But taking steps towards not just a tolerant workplace but an inclusive environment is the right thing to do.
It also makes great business sense.
Who doesn’t want the LGBT community on-board and promoting the business, or access to some of the very best employees working for your establishment?
Throughout Pride Month I am offering a special Equality & Diversity package with a view to supporting Hospitality employers develop a more inclusive workplace, at an affordable price
This E-Learning Package Includes The Following Courses :
Equality, Diversity and Discrimination (Equality Act 2010)
Anti Harassment and Bullying
Developing Good Employee Relations
Original price: £75. Pride Month Price: £55.
 Mark McCulloch, Timothy put the Kettel on podcast, episode 25; https://www.timothyrandrews.com/podcast/episode/7830cde6/why-targeting-the-under-30s-is-key-to-solving-hospitalitys-recruitment-issues-or-mark-mcculloch