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It’s easy for well-meaning businesses to talk about being LGBT inclusive. In my work, I’ve heard clients say “all are welcome here” and “we don’t care who someone loves.” These are both great sentiments to proclaim, particularly when you believe them.

But how that translates into the customer’s experience is often neglected. Let’s take a doctor’s office as an example. As the executive director of the practice, you need to think beyond a rainbow sticker on your office window or advertising in an LGBT publication. You need to think about what happens when a patient walks through your doors or calls your office.

  • Do your forms reflect that you are indeed an inclusive practice, or were they written exclusively from a straight perspective, assuming that the patient has an opposite gender partner?
  • Have you trained your staff how to properly speak about the patient’s spouse/partner/husband/wife?
  • Are you aware that marriage equality is the law of the land?
  • Are you well-versed in the fact that LGBT individuals and couples can and do have children?
  • Have you given any thought as to the “T” in LGBT? What level of sensitivity to you have to transgender patients, including asking how they prefer to be addressed?
  • If your staff members have beliefs that are NOT inclusive, how are you dealing with that issue?

Speaking as a gay man, let me share two important thoughts with you:

  1. We can tell when you’re faking it, so don’t. The results will not be pretty!
  2. We’ll be loyal beyond your wildest dreams if you truly do care about us, make it clear in every aspect of our experience with your business, and provide an excellent product or service.

Being LGBT inclusive means so much more than saying “all are welcome” and “we don’t care who someone loves” though, again, that is a great start. It means a complete audit of your company: forms, verbal and written communication, marketing and advertising, signage, website and social media. It also means having a basic, comprehensive understanding of our history.

These issues apply to all professional services firms, but every company that desires to be inclusive of LGBT persons, whether staff or customers, would benefit from this type of audit.

To be heard, to be known, to be understood – these are the hallmarks of extraordinary relationships. And good business is all about building extraordinary relationships. It’s the right thing to do, and you’ll do well by doing good.