This article was published on August 8th, 2016
While most Canadians would agree that Canada is on the right track and is progressing towards being an open and tolerant culture, a new study recently commissioned by one of Canada’s largest telecommunications companies, TELUS, has published shocking findings on LGBTQ equality in the workplace. The study found that:
- One in three Canadians do not agree that their workplace is safe and inclusive for LGBTQ employees
- 45% do not agree their workplace is safe and inclusive for transgender employees.
- 30% of LGBTQ respondents have experienced or witnessed homophobic or transphobic discrimination or harassment at work, with nearly half of the incidents going unreported to employers.
- 57% of LGBTQ Canadians are not fully “out” at work.
- 22% of those are worried about a hostile or unfriendly work environment
- 15% are worried it may limit their career opportunities
- 10% are concerned with their personal safety.
While these statistics highlight major issues in LGBTQ workplace rights, TELUS is one of a handful of Canadian brands that are trailblazing the way forward to openness and inclusivity, and has been a long time corporate role model and leader in the LGBTQ corporate movement. TELUS has a longstanding support for its LGBTQ team members. It goes back to 1992 when they introduced same-sex benefits, well before it was standard practice in Canada. Since 2000, the company has voluntarily contributed more than $3.5 million and TELUS team members have volunteered thousands of hours of service to LGBTQ organizations.
The company also has six in house diversity-focused team member resource groups, including their LGBTQ group Spectrum, which includes over 1,100 TELUS team members. This year alone, TELUS will take part in 13 Pride celebrations across Canada.
To help all Canadian businesses create safer and more inclusive work environments, a section to see how Canadian businesses can better support LGBTQ diversity and inclusiveness was included in TELUS’ study. It identified some of the major ways in which Canadian businesses can create more diverse and inclusive working environments. A majority of the LGBTQ respondents agreed that the following strategies would have a positive effect:
- Anti-harassment/discrimination policy
- Diversity and inclusiveness training
- Supporting/taking part in Pride celebrations
- LGBTQ employee support/resource groups
- Senior leaders supporting LGBTQ causes and events
While the study excelled in highlighting the challenges faced by LGBTQ employees, it also uncovered how supporting the LGBTQ community is beneficial to the public image of the company. This is a hugely positive step as it means that actively promoting gender and sexuality diversity in the workplace is economically beneficial to the company, which should encourage more companies to follow in the footsteps of TELUS. The study found that:
- 68% of Canadians (88% of LGBTQ Canadians) think that businesses that support the LGBTQ community are better corporate citizens.
- 59% of Canadians (81% of LGBTQ Canadians) think that businesses that support LGBTQ businesses are more innovative.
- 64% of Canadians (86% of LGBTQ Canadians) think that businesses that support the LGBTQ community better understand the needs of their customers.
- 56% of Canadians (86% of LGBTQ Canadians) are more likely to consider working for businesses that support the LGBTQ community.
- 49% of Canadians (83% of LGBTQ Canadians) are more likely to purchase products and services from companies that support the LGBTQ community.
TELUS not only seeks to be an industry leader in diversity and inclusiveness, their commitment spreads beyond this. They want to pave the way to a safe workplace for every member of the LGBTQ community in every company in Canada and beyond.
“Canadian business leaders have a responsibility to champion diversity and foster a culture of acceptance, appreciation and inclusiveness within their organizations,” sais Peter Green, senior vice-president, business solutions west, sales at TELUS, and global executive sponsor of Spectrum, TELUS’ LGBTQ team member resource group. “While we have made great strides in this respect, we have much to do. It’s imperative that all Canadians – regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race, culture or abilities – feel comfortable bringing their whole selves to work and sharing their personalities and uniqueness with confidence and trust that they will be respected and valued.”