LGBTQ+ DEI in the workplace: Recommendations from DC-based marketing leader David Brown

by Susan Mullin

David Brown offers advice on how to make the workplace more inclusive for LGBTQ+ employees

For Pride Month, we spoke with David Brown about his recommendations on ways to truly embody DEI in workplace culture. David is the Director of Partner Marketing at ZeroFox, and speaks on DEI, particularly as it relates to LGBTQ+ employees. If you want to make a difference but aren’t sure where to begin, we hope these recommendations will help. Take these recommendations to identify specific ways to move forward with your DEI programs.

LGBTQ+ workplace DEI: Recommendations from DC-based marketing leader David Brown
David Brown

What are your top 3 recommendations for ways companies can truly embed DEI? Specifically, as it relates to their LGBTQ+ employees?

I appreciate how everyone’s so rah-rah about changing their logo to a rainbow flag, or sponsoring a parade float. But as the climate continues to evolve, LGBTQ+ expectations continue to rise for employers. In addition to public displays of support, it’s important to demonstrate that executives and companies are doing the work. They are building a truly diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment. Here are my recommendations:

1. Recruit diversely

Not only that, but ensure that leadership positions are filled with qualified candidates that reflect the diversity of the organization. Visibility at all levels is the best way that a company not only signals–but proves–that it is committed to DE&I and recognizes the value delivered by a workforce with diverse backgrounds. There are networks like Out in Tech and Out Professionals that are designed to recruit, train, and place LGBTQ+ folks in a variety of positions. It’s valuable to track metrics on DE&I and publicly report the activities that build inclusive leadership and a diverse personnel base as well.

2. Provide equitable benefits

Ensure that benefits take into consideration the specific needs of the LGBTQ+ community. Reflect on whether your policies help all employees.

Advocate for:

  • Non-gendered parental leave
  • LGBTQ+ affirming and non-discriminatory health insurance programs (including covered access to clinics and specialists that serve the LGBTQ+ community, gender-affirming care, and specialist pharmacies)
  • Availability of mental health coverage with LGBTQ+ specialists
  • Liberal domestic partnership status for those who cannot legally marry

3. Create an inclusive atmosphere

Make a day-to-day atmosphere of inclusivity with a variety of social events, as well as opportunities to learn and engage that are open, level, and comfortable for all employees. Meanwhile, enact “no tolerance” policies for homophobic or transphobic speech or actions, designed in collaboration with a working group of LGBTQ+ employees. Regularly update this policy and clearly communicate it to all employees, regardless of their working location.

What companies or organizations do you see out there who are doing it well or thinking innovatively about how to integrate DEI for their LGBTQ+ employees in deeper ways?

1. Palo Alto Networks

Palo Alto Networks maintain several employee-driven and leadership-valued employee network groups (ENGs). The company website states that these ENGs “foster a diverse, inclusive workplace aligned with [Palo Alto’s] values and actively servicing [their] goals…” and provide “input and representation at a leadership level, keeping diversity and inclusion in its rightful place at the top of [the company’s] agenda.” Also, Palo Alto partners with organizations that build a pipeline of diverse candidates with skills in high demand.

2. Accenture

Accenture is regularly featured in several indices of highly inclusive and diverse employers. Their Belonging for Women report highlights the outcomes of their gender equity policies.  Accenture also frequently highlights a benefits program inclusive of transgender needs in 17 countries and growing. Perhaps most interesting, Accenture has discovered a business opportunity that benefits both revenue and expanding DE&I to customers. What opportunity?  Accenture’s Talent & Organization/Human Potential. This practice builds on internal lessons learned and global best practices to advise other companies on energizing a diverse and inclusive workforce.

3. Bain & Company

Bain has made the bold step of wading into the negative impacts of several policy issues that directly affect their LGBTQ+ personnel. The company website details that Bain is “the first global consulting firm to offer reimbursement to same-sex couples for federal taxes levied on domestic partner health benefits.”

Bain is also a sponsor of the Uniting American Families Act in the US, which seeks to stop the deportation of binational same-sex couples. Bain has also taken the highly visible step of endorsing and committing to uphold the United Nations Standards of Conduct for Businesses, the first global standards aimed at tackling discrimination against LGBTQI individuals.

Thanks, David Brown!

David, thank you so much for your insightful guidance on ways companies can further integrate LGBTQ+ DEI in their workplaces. You’ve highlighted some crucial areas for executives to consider and address as they work to ensure that their organizational cultures are diverse, equitable and inclusive of all employees.

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