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June 6, 2012June is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Pride month in the United States and around the world, but the challenges facing LGBT employees warrant our attention year-round. In today’s guest post, Catalyst’s Julie S. Nugent and Alixandra Pollack give a snapshot of the legal landscape for LGBT workers and what some companies are doing to bridge the gaps.

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LGBT workplace inclusion has been on the radar of many organizations for some time. According to US-based Human Rights Campaign, 57 percent of Fortune 500 companies offer same-sex domestic partner benefits, 85 percent have non-discrimination policies covering sexual orientation, and 35 percent have non-discrimination policies protecting gender identity and/or gender expression. As our research has shown, however, even in supportive legal environments, workplace barriers for LGBT employees continue to persist.

So what can organizations do to tackle these challenges? Lots! In the past several years, we’ve seen more and more creative and effective efforts to increase LGBT inclusion. Many leading companies have begun to push beyond uniform approaches, instead focusing on tailored efforts to meet the unique needs of the dynamic and sizeable LGBT population working across geographic and cultural borders. LGBT inclusion on a global scale is critical to achieving that goal.

Evidence shows that when LGBT employees feel comfortable coming out at work, there are significant positive benefits for individuals and the business alike. Studies also show positive associations between a company’s inclusive policies and the brand selection of consumers globally.

Initiatives such as Hewlett-Packard’s LGBT reciprocal mentoring program, Ford Motor Company’s approach to connecting with LGBT consumers across Europe and North America, or Toronto Dominion Banks’ Workplace Gender Transition Guide can be counted as examples of innovative practices to foster inclusive environments where all employees can be successful.

We hope that you’ll join us in celebrating LGBT professionals around the world this month—and share your approaches and ideas to further the dialogue. Eleanor Tabi Haller-Jorden, General Manager, Catalyst Europe AG, will be speaking at the Workplace Pride Foundation’s 6th Annual International LGBT Inclusion Conference in Amsterdam, exploring the theme of leadership. Later this month, we’ll be joined by two McKinsey & Company partners for a webinar discussing the current and future state of global LGBT inclusion, including cutting-edge case studies from organizations around the world. Also, Catalyst and Littler are hosting an LGBT panel event focused on workplace inclusion in San Francisco with senior champions from Gap Inc, Cisco, Littler, and Hewlett Packard.

So check out our new suite of practices and research for ideas on how to engage your LGBT population and allies. There’s always opportunity to do more, and it can make an impact!

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Julie S. Nugent conducts research and works closely with member organizations to examine organizational diversity and inclusion efforts, change models, and career experiences and perceptions of women and men professionals across levels and industries. As Chair of the Catalyst Award Evaluation Committee, Ms. Nugent investigates workplace environments and specific D&I programs and policies around the world. Ms. Nugent frequently speaks to corporate and public audiences and the media on topics including women’s leadership and advancement, sponsorship, mentoring, LGBT, diversity and inclusion strategies, and the Catalyst Award. Ms. Nugent received her BA in Psychology and English from Ohio University. She received her MA in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from New York University.

Alixandra Pollack conducts research on corporate practices and career pathways. She is also part of Catalyst’s Diversity & Inclusion Practices team and a member of Catalyst’s Global Issues Specialty Team, the Social Media Team, and the Diversity and Inclusion Action Council. She received her MPH in Global Public Health from George Washington University, and her BA in Health: Science, Society, and Policy and Spanish Language and Literature from Brandeis University.