Diversity surrounds us every day.
We can see diversity everywhere: in life experience, education, cultural background, gender and sexual identity. In the workplace, celebrating diversity means acknowledging the many identities that make an employee unique. To accept these unique identities, we first have to understand them. Understanding is a key step in creating an inclusive environment where employees feel acknowledged and valued.
A good place to start is conversation. When it comes to the LGBT community in particular, begin by having educational conversations about the many challenges the community faces. The conversation can educate other employees about negative stereotypes and discrimination, including prejudices against gay and transgender individuals.
Although conversations like this take extra time and effort, they have real business benefits. Inclusive companies recognize the importance of attracting and retaining diverse talent in order to truly reflect the needs of a diverse marketplace. It isn’t just about good corporate citizenship, it’s about being more effective in serving customers, and the proof of this is in the numbers.
When it comes to the LGBT community, it is estimated that 6 to 10 percent of the population identifies as gay or lesbian. In the marketplace, it means that between 3 to 5 million consumers identify as LGBT. Globally, the buying power of the LGBT community is estimated to be $2 trillion according to Witeck-Combs Communications Inc. In the U.S., research suggests that the purchasing power of the LGBT community exceeds $830 billion annually, and LGBT consumers are among the most brand-loyal communities. Meanwhile, about 74 percent of straight individuals say that they also make purchasing decisions based on how organizations treat LGBT employees.
At Sodexo, we have over 35,000 employees who identify as LGBT. Inclusion is a business imperative not just a goal. We use diversity of thought, as a well as in professional and personal backgrounds to optimize productivity of our more than 430,000 employees worldwide. This translates to stronger results and business outcomes for our clients, suppliers and community partners.