The workplace environment can be stressful and challenging as it is. While this is relevant to everyone, it is thrice as impactful towards the LGBT+ community. Fear of stigma, discrimination and isolation can truly take a toll on the overall wellbeing and execution of daily life. Here we discuss why workplace mental health policies should take the LGBT+ experiences into account.
Why it should matter to your company
It has been well established that addressing mental health issues in the workplace can bring about a positive milestone. Increased efficiency, seamless operations and work-life satisfaction are some of the advantages. According to the Mental Health Policy and Service Guidance Package by WHO, ‘The development and implementation of a workplace mental health policy and programme will benefit the health of employees, increase productivity for the company and will contribute to the wellbeing of the community at large.’
As a company and community, it is our duty to ensure that people of all walks of life and gender are tended to and given an opportunity to shine. The report on LGBT+ Pride 2021 Global Survey conducted on 500 individuals stated that 3% of the Indian Population identify as homosexual, 9% as bisexual, 1% as pansexual and 2% as asexual. In all, 17% were identified as not heterosexual. And this is just a small representation of the bigger picture.
Not everybody is affected by mental challenges in a similar manner. Due to the fear of harassment and rejection, the LGBT+ community are not able to excel as per their potential. Building a safe environment can help them bring value to the organisation. Specially curated policies need to be taken into consideration while safeguarding the professional benefits and rights of the LGBT+ community. The Out & Equal Workplace Equality Fact Sheet of US states that LGBTQ+ individuals who are not comfortable discussing their identity are 73% more likely to quit the company in three years. 53% state that their work environment was badly impacted due to discrimination and 10% have quit due to an unfavourable environment.
Let’s further throw light on why workplace mental health policies should take the LGBT+ experiences into account.
LGBQT+ communities face stigma
India might have legally decriminalized homosexuality three years ago, but the grim reality is that the LGBQT community still faces a hostile environment. As per a review and research on LGBTQ+ mental health in India by Jagruti R. Wandrekar and Advaita S. Nigudkar, the individuals suffer from ‘family enacted violence and lack of family acceptance, pressure to marry, violence from peers and partners, institutional violence and discrimination at schools and workplaces, and experiences of discrimination in employment, housing, and health care services.’ This is one of the main reasons why many prefer to keep their identity under wraps rather than coming out with the truth.
Thrice as likely to go through mental health conditions
The trauma of the past experiences and the challenges experienced in day-to-day life make the LGBTQ+ community thrice as vulnerable towards mental health conditions. They can suffer from suicidal thoughts as well. The workplace can be a stressful place as it is, this is further compounded by unfavourable situations. As per Mind Share Partner’s 2019 Mental Health at Work report, the individuals are more susceptible to every mental health symptom such as anxiety and depression. Around three-fourth of admitted that they undergo mental health issues due to work itself.
Many LGBTQ+ individuals suffer from isolation. Being the only few or the only person in the organization, they are often underrepresented and have no role models to look up to. This further impacts their self-esteem and comes in the way of productivity as well. Many still carry the wounds of their childhood with them. Not having an appropriate outlet or a safe environment to cope up with can be detrimental to the person as a whole.
Another issue faced by most of the LGBTQ+ community is the fear or act of discrimination. They often feel singled out in a continuous environment like the workplace. Particular mannerisms and behaviours are put under the scanner. Even if the individual is not out in the open, they are not able to freely discuss experiences and partners for the fear of being judged or reprimanded. Due to the biased judgement, the team members might treat them differently or leave them out of important discussions.
The good news is that there have been Indian companies like Godrej, who partnered with UN to fight against prejudice and discrimination against gays and lesbians in the workplace. They have been vocal about their support of the community.
LGBT inclusion will encourage and motivate the employees to give in their best and be their true selves at work. It will help them to come out of the shadow of harassment, discrimination and rejection and empower not just the organisation but also the individual to excel.
Bouncbk is a mobile platform designed to help your employees measure and improve their emotional wellbeing. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to know more.