Finding your membership base
Once you’ve built strong foundations for your network, the next step is to grow your membership. LGBT employee network groups are run by employees for employees. The larger your membership, the wider the impact you can have – whether directly through peer-to-peer support or indirectly by helping to create a more LGBT-inclusive environment.
These are a key tool for engaging colleagues and recruiting more members. Whether you use email, intranet posts, paper, or something else, all employees working at your organisation should be informed about the creation of the LGBT employee network group and how to join.
Not only are allies a source of great help for LGBT employee network groups, it can be easier for LGBT employees who aren’t out at work to first get involved as allies.
Hold a launch event
These are a popular way to build momentum after creating a new network group. A launch event doesn’t have to be costly or difficult to organise. It can be as simple as an informal social or networking event after work hours, or a roundtable for employees to discuss LGBT inclusion.
You could use visible signs of support for LGBT equality such as putting up rainbow flags in the room of your event. Regardless of the format you choose, this is a great way to kickstart your network and find potential members. Remember to keep your members safe and comfortable, for example by checking for consent from everyone involved before sharing pictures of the event online.
Work to make your network inclusive
There can be barriers for some employees to get involved with LGBT employee network groups. This is particularly true for bi and trans employees, as well as other employees who may have felt excluded from LGBT communities in the past – for example, disabled employees, BAME employees, women, and employees of faith.
Job type can also affect employees’ ability to get involved – this is often the case for remote workers and shift workers. Your network should always be committed to listening to all LGBT employees and breaking down any barriers that prevent colleagues from getting involved.
Don’t get discouraged
Growing your network group can be a slow process. Even with a small membership base, your network group can create positive change internally and see some great results. With time, your contribution to creating a more LGBT-inclusive workplace environment is likely to help other employees feel comfortable enough to be out at work and get involved with your network.
Activities, initiatives and events
Once it’s launched, you can start implementing your plans for your network group. There’s an extensive range of events organised by LGBT employee network groups across the country and it can be difficult to know where to start with your own network.
- Start small – in the early days of your network group, make sure to focus on quality rather than quantity. Holding meetings every week or planning ambitious events straight away isn’t essential for becoming a strong network group that effectively supports its members.
- Focus on your aims and objectives – regularly referring back to the goals you set at the beginning will help you stay consistent while deciding what to do as a network group. It will also help you focus on where you can have the greatest impact and avoid taking too much on.
- Delegate – make sure that everything your network needs to get done is appropriately allocated to willing members. Any arising tasks that don’t fit into the role description of your chair, co-chairs or executive committee can be an opportunity for other members of the network group to get more involved. This will ensure that workloads are manageable, while also creating great professional development opportunities for members.
- Reach out to your allies – building a strong relationship with LGBT allies within your organisation can help your network group achieve its goals and grow. Whether you’re running an organisation-wide initiative, or your network group needs someone to perform a small administrative task, remember to reach out to your allies for support.
For more suggestions and guidance on activities and initiatives you can run as a network group to create a more LGBT-inclusive workplace environment, refer to Stonewall’s ‘Finding your collective voice’ resource available exclusively for Diversity Champions.