Practical Application: Including Gender & Sexual Minorities in the Workplace

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  • 0:00 Scenarios for Inclusion
  • 0:49 Male-Male Sexual Harassment
  • 2:52 Tokenism and Gender
  • 4:22 Indirectly Forcing…
  • 6:23 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Scott Tuning

Scott has been a faculty member in higher education for over 10 years. He holds an MBA in Management, an MA in counseling, and an M.Div. in Academic Biblical Studies.

This lesson describes some situations in which managers must take action in order to preserve the inclusiveness of the workplace for individuals who are members of a sexual or gender minority group.

Scenarios for Inclusion

What does it mean to be inclusive? Inclusivity is basically when a person or group makes an effort to include people who might otherwise be marginalized in some way. This encompasses several different realms, including race, ethnic background, religion, and even gender and sexuality. We'll be looking at the last two in this lesson. However, being inclusive of sexual minorities in the workplace isn't something that comes naturally to a lot of people. In fact, some studies suggest that sexual minorities suffer exclusion in the workplace exceeding that of even racial or ethnic bias. Let's take a look at these three scenarios and think about how you might respond in similar situations.

Male-Male Sexual Harassment

Cheryl, the operations manager for a small printing company, sat at her desk looking uncertain. In her more than 20 years of experience, she had dealt with dozens of sexual harassment complaints. This one was different. A supervisor named Chris was being accused of sexual harassment by one of his direct reports named Sam. Cheryl wasn't quite sure what to do in this instance since both employees were male.

Although Cheryl was uncertain as she read the complaint, a few days of research made her even more concerned about the right way to move forward. From her reading of the anti-discrimination statutes, Cheryl believed that the LGBTQ community was not expressly protected in the same way that other minority groups were. How should Cheryl proceed given the convoluted circumstances in this case?

Let's now take a look at the resolution for this conflict. When it comes to an inclusive workplace, federal law is clear that businesses must be inclusive of certain classes, commonly known as protected classes. Nearly all anti-discrimination laws prohibit discrimination based on race, ethnicity, gender, or age. To the extent that Cheryl believes that LGBT individuals are not presently afforded all of the anti-discrimination protections given to other members of a protected class, she'd be incorrect to believe that male-male sexual harassment should be treated any differently than other forms of sexual harassment. The correct path forward is for Cheryl to treat this complaint exactly as she would any other complaint of sexual harassment.

Even though not all jurisdictions specifically provide anti-discrimination protection for members of the LGBT community, the allegation here is not discrimination but rather sexual harassment. In the inclusive workplace, leaders will write policies and establish procedures that include protections for all forms of sexual harassment, including those not found in the traditional male-female configuration.

Tokenism and Gender

A large rental car company has opened an office in a new market. The regional manager who will oversee this new satellite office, Justin, is aware that his present leadership team is not very inclusive at all. In fact, white males make up the entirety of his eight-member management team. Shortly after opening, Justin received an email from the corporate headquarters indicating that they were concerned about the diversity of his management team and asked him to consider how he might make changes to be more inclusive.

Needless to say, this made Justin a little bit irritated. He had worked with his current team well on other projects, and he had no interest in changing his team. Nevertheless, he knew that corporate wouldn't let him off the hook until he fixed what they believed to be a lack of inclusiveness. How should Justin handle the situation?

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