10 June 2024


This June we’re joining people all around the world in welcoming Pride Month. It’s a time for celebrations, but most importantly, Pride reminds us to continue to work towards greater equality and visibility within our LGBTQ+ communities. As a company committed to diversity and inclusivity within our business and workforce, we believe a greater sense of belonging for all is essential within healthcare – and in this blog we look at what this means in our space and how we can all work towards achieving a more Inclusive, unified environment.

What is LGBTQ+ Inclusivity in Healthcare?

The premise of inclusivity in healthcare is a simple one: health is a basic human right, as outlined in the World Health Organisation constitution, and the highest attainable state of health is a fundamental right of every person. This means healthcare professionals must provide equal care to all patients, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation, and it is the responsibility of all of us to create healthcare environments that recognise everyone as equal. This means focusing on the development of Inclusive, person- /patient-centred healthcare practices tailored to individual identities, beliefs and needs.

The Role of Pride Month in Healthcare

LGBTQ+ is an umbrella term and includes lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. The + symbol can refer to other sexualities and gender identities such as intersex people, pansexuality, asexuality, non-binary and people who are questioning their sexuality or gender identity. Acknowledging and celebrating Pride Month in healthcare settings reinforces to employees and patients that they are always accepted for who they are, no matter who they love or how they identify. It promotes awareness and equality within an organisation and increases understanding of the issues faced by those in the LGBTQ+ community. The essence of Pride is about recognising that every team member has the right to work within a culture where they feel valued and supported, in an environment that is free of discrimination. In this way we can achieve:

Diversity – our workforce must reflect the population it serves and the richness of difference.

Equality – we commit to meeting legislative requirements relating to Equality, such as The Employment Equality Acts 1998-2015 and the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014 which offer protection to individuals regardless of sexual orientation and gender (as well as age, civil status, disability, ethnicity, race and culture, family status, religion, sexual orientation and memberships of the Traveller community).

Inclusion – we must create organisational cultures where all individuals are treated with dignity and respect and are empowered to bring their whole selves to work.

How Can We Achieve More LGBTQ+ Inclusive Healthcare?

So, what actionable steps can you as a healthcare provider take to foster more Inclusive environments and support those in the LGBTQ+ community? Here are some best practices:

For Team Members

Improving Diversity and Inclusion for staff within your organisation will substantially improve their work experience, job satisfaction and performance. Strategies can include:

- Review your LGBTQ+ Inclusion Policies

LGBTQ+ Inclusion should be a vital part of your Equality and Diversity policy and having a separate LGBTQ+ Inclusion policy takes this a step further and shows your commitment to avoiding discrimination. Be sure policies such as parental leave are LGBTQ+ Inclusive.

- Provide LGBTQ+ Training

This is a powerful and effective way to make sure everyone is educated. Training can include awareness of unconscious bias and the use of appropriate language and terminology.

- Set up an LGBTQ+ Network

Encourage staff to get together and relate to each other in a safe, non-judgemental space.

- Encourage Allies

If there are non-LGBTQ+ people in your workplace who are passionate about LGBTQ+ rights – they could champion Inclusion by becoming Allies. Read on for more details…

- List Your Pronouns

Adding pronouns on social media profiles and email signatures and stating them in meetings is key to ensuring no one’s gender is assumed. Pronouns include she/her, he/him, they/them or a mixture of pronouns, such as she/they or he/they)

- Incorporate Gender-Neutral Language

Use gender-neutral language to show your organisation is not biased towards any specific gender. For example, use ‘they’ instead of ‘he/she’ in company documentation such as contracts. Always practice ‘Equality proofing’.

- Celebrate LGBTQ+ History

Celebrate Pride just as you would other important dates. By involving both LGBTQ+ and non-LGBTQ+ employees you are spreading awareness and providing learning opportunities.

- Practice Inclusivity as a Day-to-Day Conversation

Inclusivity is not a one-day workshop: it needs to be part of daily work. So, keep conversations open and create the space to address issues.

- Gather Diversity Data

Develop systems to gather key data on Diversity and Inclusivity and use this to enhance work processes and mechanisms.

For Patients

A Diverse workforce that supports the LGBTQ+ community can also help patients from underrepresented backgrounds feel more comfortable in healthcare environments. If they experience Diversity and Inclusivity in action, their patient experience is greatly improved.

- Beware of assumptions and stereotypes that might relate to sexuality, gender identity and sex characteristics. Adopt an empathetic approach, for example “As is routine for all patients and so I can give you the best care, I need to ask you several personal questions.”

- Use appropriate terminology, not labels, avoiding language that marginalises or excludes patients.

- Use appropriate signage and symbols such as physical, printed, and online symbols such as LGBTQIA+ Pride flag.

- Use Inclusivity in all healthcare research to avoid a skewed picture of service users’ needs.

- Advocate for Inclusivity by partnering with external parties for more Inclusive care.

Become an Ally

An LGBTQIA+ ally supports and educates themselves about, and speaks out and advocates for, LGBTQIA+ people. It means embarking on an ongoing journey of educating, learning, listening and advocating for others – working towards Equality and Inclusivity in all aspects of life. Here’s how:

- Educate and Spread Awareness – Allies educate themselves on the unique health needs of the LGBTQ+ community, including being aware of health disparities and understanding the importance of mental health support.

- Advocate - Allies champion Inclusive policies, practices and legislation in healthcare settings. For example, making sure all company documents are inclusive of all gender identities and sexual orientations, and supporting legislation that protects the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals in healthcare.

- Create Safe Spaces – Allies create welcoming environments in healthcare settings and display symbols of support, such as rainbow flags.

- Establish Support Groups– Allies facilitate support groups for LGBTQ+ individuals, so employees can share experiences and get support.

- Promote Inclusive Language - Allies promote the use of inclusive language in healthcare settings, including using a person's correct pronouns and gender-neutral language where required.

- Listen and Learn – Most importantly, Allies listen to the experiences and concerns of LGBTQ+ individuals. This is how they grow their understanding of the challenges faced by the LGBTQ+ community and learn how to provide meaningful support.

This Pride Month, lend your voice to the importance of Inclusivity in healthcare. Join the conversation and help make change happen.