A recent study1 commissioned by TELUS examines how Canadian businesses can better support LGBTQ diversity and inclusiveness, and highlights the challenges that many LGBTQ Canadians continue to face in the workplace.

The study revealed that one third of Canadians do not agree that their workplace is safe and inclusive for LGBTQ employees, while 45 per cent do not agree their workplace is safe and inclusive for transgender employees. Additionally, 30 per cent 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. Further, just 43 per cent of Canadians said their employer has clear policies and procedures in place to address discriminatory or harassing actions against LGBTQ employees.

The study also found that 57 per cent of LGBTQ Canadians are not fully “out” at work: 22 per cent of those are worried about a hostile or unfriendly work environment, 15 per cent are worried it may limit their career opportunities, and 10 per cent are concerned with their personal safety.

“Canadian business leaders have a responsibility to champion diversity and foster a culture of acceptance, appreciation and inclusiveness within their organizations. While we have made great strides in this respect, we have much to do,” said Peter Green, senior vice-president, Business Solutions West, Sales at TELUS and Global Executive Sponsor of Spectrum, TELUS’ LGBTQ team member resource group. “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.”

The study identified some of the most impactful ways Canadian businesses can create more diverse and inclusive working environments. LGBTQ respondents agreed that the following actions and activities would have a positive effect on diversity and inclusiveness in Canadian workplaces:

·         Anti-harassment/discrimination policy (81 per cent)

·         Diversity and inclusiveness training (66 per cent)

·         Supporting/taking part in Pride celebrations (51 per cent)

·         LGBTQ employee support/resource groups (50 per cent)

·         Senior leaders supporting LGBTQ causes and events (50 per cent)

“Embracing diversity and inclusiveness isn’t just the right thing to do; it can also provide a significant competitive advantage. In a world of increasing competition and customer choice, a diverse and inclusive environment introduces new perspectives and fuels innovation,” said Green. “At TELUS, we firmly believe that fostering a diverse and inclusive environment creates a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.”

While the study highlighted the challenges LGBTQ Canadians face in the workplace, it also uncovered how supporting the LGBTQ community positively impacts Canadians’ perceptions of a company, both within the LGBTQ community and across the Canadian population as a whole:

·         68 per cent of Canadians (88 per cent of LGBTQ Canadians) think that businesses that support the LGBTQ community are better corporate citizens.

·         59 per cent of Canadians (81 per cent of LGBTQ Canadians) think that businesses that support LGBTQ businesses are more innovative.

·         64 per cent of Canadians (86 per cent of LGBTQ Canadians) think that businesses that support the LGBTQ community better understand the needs of their customers.

·         56 per cent of Canadians (86 per cent of LGBTQ Canadians) are more likely to consider working for businesses that support the LGBTQ community.

·         49 per cent of Canadians (83 per cent of LGBTQ Canadians) are more likely to purchase products and services from companies that support the LGBTQ community.

TELUS’ longstanding support for its LGBTQ team members dates back to 1992 when the company introduced same-sex benefits, well before it was standard practice in Canada. Since 2000, the company has contributed more than $3.5 million and TELUS team members have volunteered thousands of hours of service to LGBTQ organizations. Today, Spectrum – one of six diversity-focused team member resource groups at TELUS – includes more than 1,100 TELUS team members and the company will take part in 13 Pride celebrations across Canada this year.

Click here to learn more about TELUS’ commitment to diversity.


About the Author

Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist based in Toronto with a focus on tourism, lifestyle, entertainment and community issues. He has written several travel articles and has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He’s willing to take on any assignments of interest, attend parties with free booze, listen to rants, and travel the world in search of the great unknown. He’s eager to discover the new, remember the past, and look into the future.