Developing an LGBTQ-Friendly Hiring Process

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Jul 26, 2022

One of my friends is trans. He transitioned over a year ago. He’s the top salesperson in his entire recruiting agency; yet he gets dead-named every single week during team reporting. (Deadnaming is when one refers to a transgender or non-binary individual by a name they used prior to transitioning, like their birth name.) Why? Because he hasn’t legally changed his name.

The reason? Because his name has not been changed legally, they won’t change his name in their system at work. 

My friend is not the only one going through this. Such shaming happens to queer people around the world every single day.

The solution? It’s simple: an evaluation of the candidate and employee experience led by people who are actually queer in partnership with a talent team.

In fact, recently I participated in an ERE Media webinar with some friends, where we talked about what companies are doing now not only to evaluate these candidate and employee experiences but to improve them, as well. 

Trans folks shouldn’t be deadnamed in the workplace. These things shouldn’t be happening at all anymore, especially at companies that claim to care about their candidates and employees. 

The Candidate Experience: Controlling What You Can

When it comes to evaluating and improving the candidate experience, focus on things that you can actually control. There are plenty of variables that are out of your control, like how many queer applicants you receive. You can’t control what a candidate’s sexuality or gender identity is, but you can control how your application process presents itself to them when they apply.

There are three things you can do right now to improve your candidate experience:

  1. Optimize your job postings to be more gender neutral by using gender decoders. (Note: Telling the truth is the most important way to remove bias, so use gender decoders last, not first.)
  2. Request pronouns during the application process to ensure candidates know they can feel comfortable sharing their pronouns if they’d like, but don’t make it mandatory so you can avoid putting candidates in an uncomfortable situation if they are not ready to share their pronouns.
  3. Build a highly empathetic and accepting recruiting team. Making sure your team values a positive candidate experience will help candidates feel comfortable and safe each step of the way.

The Employee Experience: Retention Matters

Employee experience is what companies and managers can’t afford to get wrong. At the end of the day, losing a candidate doesn’t cost nearly as much as losing an employee. 

Did you know that losing an employee can cost you 50% or more of their salary? A study by the Society for Human Resource Management states that “employers will need to spend the equivalent of six to nine months of an employee’s salary in order to find and train their replacement. That means an employee salaried at $60,000 will cost the company anywhere from $30,000 to $45,000 to hire and train a replacement.”

Here are three ways you can evaluate and improve your employee experience to ensure employee retention:

  1. Incorporate pronoun education into your onboarding process, not just during Pride month. Your employees aren’t just queer for the month of June, so you should be promoting education all months of the year.
  2. Audit and delete policies that don’t work for everyone. Policies aren’t one-size-fits-all situations, so make sure that you don’t enforce something that actually harms some of your employees.
  3. Listen to your employees and ERGs, because opening your ears and hearing what your people are saying is the best way to know exactly what to do to make folks happy. If you want to retain your people and ensure their experience is as positive as possible, listen to what they have to say.

It Doesn’t End With LGBTQIA+ People

Working toward evaluating and improving your candidate and employee experiences doesn’t stop at queer folks. In fact, this kind of work helps to elevate representation and equity across every group, especially those that are marginalized.

Talent acquisition and human resources need to work together to implement these changes to truly evaluate the impact. Because if you want measurable results, you have to work towards that change.

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