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How to Create an LGBTQ+ Inclusive Recruitment Strategy?

By Universum, 2021-06-30

One of the most common employer branding priorities of leading companies around the world in 2021 is to increase their “commitment to diversity and inclusion.” According to Universum’s 2021 EB Now report, 98% of leading companies in the group of “World’s Most Attractive Employers” rated a diverse workforce as a “very important” element of their employer brand. Hiring for diversity is also a priority for large companies according to 66% of total respondents.

Organizations that have embraced a diverse and inclusive workforce report improved productivity and overall success in their goals. It is becoming more and more common for companies to encourage diversity and welcome the differences among their talent in terms of gender, age, cultural background, abilities and sexual orientation.

However, a LinkedIn study showed that more than a third of recruiters have difficulties finding diverse candidates. There are various reasons for this, but the leading cause is using a wrong or ineffective strategy. Fortunately, there’s no need for complicated campaigns to attract LGBTQ+ talent; the most important part is to know your target audience and understand how to effectively communicate with them. For this, data is the most reliable resource to build a strong and inclusive recruitment strategy.

Get to know your potential LGBTQ+ candidates

Although research shows that companies with diverse workforces perform better financially, 20 percent of LGBTQ+ Americans have still experienced discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity when applying for a job.    

To attract diverse candidates, you must start by understanding their preferences, expectations and application drivers. Universum’s 2021 Talent Survey in the United States found that LGBTQ+ talent prioritized companies that openly showed “ethical standards,” while for the total sample of over 50,000 respondents, the #1 employment preference was to have “secure employment.”

The survey also found differences regarding industry preferences. LGBTQ+ talent leans towards companies in the fields of arts, non-profit and education.

When it comes to LGBTQ+ talent, take into consideration:

  • Make it clear in the job description and other communications that all gender identities and sexual orientations are welcome to the position.

  • Make sure that the recruitment team is aware of your LGBTQ+ inclusion policy.

  • Promote the LGBTQ+ talent inclusion as an active part of the communication of your employer brand both for internal and external audiences.

  • Post your vacancies to LGBTQ+-friendly online job boards.

  • Train your HR, recruiters and overall internal talent on inclusive language.

Communicate with pride about your LGBTQ+ recruitment efforts

Make sure to include in every communication (from the handbook to your social media channels) a clear non-discrimination statement that specifies the inclusion of different gender identities and sexual orientations.

It’s also crucial for any business to obtain honest feedback. You can ask candidates to give their input about your organization. Remember, when reading their feedback:

  • Be open to new ideas.

  • Address any issues.

  • Implement the needed changes.

As an employer, it’s essential to raise LGBTQ+ awareness among existing employees and job candidates. You can:

  • Use your website to promote statements and examples of your commitment to LGBTQ+ equality and inclusion.

  • Highlight your current LGBTQ+ talent.

  • Communicate clearly your commitment to diversity and inclusion on your careers website.

You can use your corporate website content to attract the attention of LGBTQ+ candidates; blogs and other content are powerful tools for building trust. It will also help establish your reputation as a company with favorable policies towards LGBTQ+ equality and inclusion.  

Additionally, your recruitment and job promotion strategy should include your LGBTQ+ equality policies. It’s also essential to train your recruitment team to learn where LGBTQ+ discriminations may occur during the recruitment process to help reduce bias.  

Social media is an effective tool for establishing your employer brand and building your network of potential job candidates. For instance, if you’re sponsoring a Pride event, you can pair it with a live virtual event to reinforce the message across channels.

Create company policies to protect LGBTQ+ employees

If your company doesn’t have an LGBTQ+ policy yet, then this is the time to start developing one. Most importantly, your organization must have clear rules against discriminating or harassing gay, lesbian, transgender and queer co-workers. Also, violators need to understand that there will be penalties.

Train your workforce on inclusion

People may sometimes say or do something that could make a co-worker uncomfortable regarding their sexual orientation. It only takes a remark to foster animosity between your staff.

Your company should consider implementing diversity and inclusion training. This session can help point out to people:

  • What anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination and abuse look like.

  • Why discrimination is detrimental for business and people alike.

  • How to challenge or deal with anti-LGBT attitudes.

Managers must also have the proper training to adopt and implement a fair policy that protects all from discrimination and abuse.   

Consider all people in the company’s dress code

Many workplaces have some form of dress code which is often based on gender identity. This could lead to misunderstandings and dissatisfied talent since a recent survey found that 35 percent of respondents said they had hidden or disguised their LGBTQ+ identities at work because of fear of discrimination.

You can solve this by conducting a training program for all your staff on how to properly use pronouns, label facilities and encourage talent to openly live their true identity.

It’s also essential to implement rules for supporting transitioning employees, including:

  • Confidentiality information

  • Dress codes

  • Facility usage

Collect relevant data about your staff’s diversity

The best way to make sure inclusiveness and diversity are being observed in the workplace is to collect data regarding your workforce’s diversity.  

Choose your words carefully. For instance, you can ask your staff to describe their gender using their own words.

You could also collect diversity data from exit interviews. This will also ensure employees will have a chance to air LGBTQ+-related concerns. Furthermore, the staff doing the diversity monitoring should have the needed LGBTQ+ awareness training to help them collect, analyze and report the results.


Creating a diverse workforce that includes LGBTQ+ talent provides many benefits to organizations. However, many LGBTQ+ and other diverse groups still report receiving discriminatory actions at the workplace and having less opportunities based on their identities.

It is therefore essential to adopt clear-cut policies prohibiting gender discrimination as an active part of your employer brand. Your LGBTQ+ equality and inclusion policy should always be present in your hiring strategy and campaigns. Make sure your audience understands that LGBTQ+ candidates are welcome to apply. These efforts will pay off, especially when the position needs candidates with a particular skill set.

If you are interested in learning more about Universum’s data on diverse talent, contact one of our experts.

To dig deeper in the topic of diversity and inclusion watch the recording of our webinar: Using Predictive Data in a D&I Recruiting Strategy

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