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Gay friendly workplaces boost productivity

August 2010 Diversity & Inclusion Best Practice
Gay friendly workplaces boost productivity
I was interviewing a young gay man when he made the amazing statement “I don’t have to edit who I am and this means I’m 50% more productive”. The interview was for some research Ian Dodds Consulting (IDC) is doing on the return on investment from putting effort into diversity.
He explained that he had never been able to be ‘out’ about being gay with any of his previous employers and at the end of each day he would feel drained by the effort involved in concealing his sexuality. He didn’t “have to put on a veil each day now” as he put it.
Indeed, the latest Stonewall research suggests, "concealing sexual orientation at work reduces productivity by up to 30%, and people who are out in supportive workplaces are more creative, loyal and productive".
So what made the difference with this employer? The gay man believed his present workplace was different because of the leadership example set by its directors. They encouraged openness and honesty and put effort into building an inclusive workplace. They did this by being: good listeners who took the trouble to understand what was behind what they were told by people; open about themselves; approachable; willing to put effort into understanding the development needs of their direct reports. This accords with work IDC has done previously to correlate leadership behaviours with the generation of an inclusive workplace for all. We found that the key behaviours come under two categories:
Engaging Behaviours:
-         Hearing people’s concerns, ideas & opinions;
-         Appreciating different individual’s cultures;
-         Empowering people.
Developmental Behaviours:
-         Finding out what each individual’s talents are;
-         Coaching them to use their talents for high performance in their role;
-         Helping them develop their talents to progress their careers.
These were exactly the behaviours that the directors of this company practised, together with promoting the values of openness and honesty. This is why the gay man found his current employer’s workplace inclusive and why he believed he was 50% more productive than with his previous employers.
IDC has considerable experience of successfully helping clients build inclusive workplaces through developing their leaders to be exemplars in these ‘engaging’ and ‘developing’ behaviours. We would be very pleased to discuss our unique and powerful approach with you.
Dr Ian Dodds
27 July 2010

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