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How JFF Supports LGBTQ Employees—and 3 Ways You Can, Too

Employee voice, inclusive benefits, and travel safety protocols can create well-being in the workplace for all

June 3, 2024

At a Glance

Queer for the Future, JFF’s ERG for staff who identify as LGBTQ+, shares three best practices for employers seeking to support employee safety, well-being, and inclusion.

Brianne McDonough Director
Sylvia Cini-Grenada Senior Program Manager
Sophie Besl Director

Employee voice, inclusive benefits, and travel safety protocols can create well-being in the workplace for all  

In April, for the first time in 25 years, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued new guidance about workplace discrimination that offers new protections to LGBTQ employees. The new guidance offers workers protections against a hostile work environment, including misgendering, deadnaming, and denying employees access to bathrooms, changing rooms, and lactation rooms consistent with their gender identity.

These new protections are welcome—and needed—but creating a worker-centered, inclusive environment that emphasizes diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging, and well-being means giving employees more than protection from harassment. At Jobs for the Future (JFF), we’re dedicated to putting the Impact Employer model—which benefits workers, companies, and communities—into action, while also acting as an Impact Employer ourselves by centering workers alongside business strategy and performance. 

For Pride Month, we’ve identified three strategies we’ve put in place that other employers can explore to expand inclusion and belonging for LGBTQ colleagues. 


Open channels that lift up LGBTQ employees’ voices 

JFF recognizes that supporting worker voice is a critical part of being an Impact Employer, and that Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) can make a significant impact in moving employee voice forward. For the past year, JFF has invested in formally implementing ERGs, which are employee-led spaces for people who share a common identity to come together for professional growth and personal connection. Sponsored by the People & Culture team under the organization’s diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging, and well-being priorities, the goals of ERGs are to support connection, community, and belonging, amplify employee voice, and encourage growth and learning. 

Connection, Community and Belonging

A space where people can be themselves while cultivating a sense of belonging, supporting psychological safety, building trusting relationships, and celebrating each other.

Employee Voice

A space for sharing work experiences and exploring how voices are amplified within the organization, while leveraging mechanisms for feedback to key decision-makers and informing the people-experience at JFF.

Growth and Learning

A space to grow and learn personally and professionally, cultivate peer-to-peer mentorship opportunities, and potentially contribute to JFF’s cultural competency.

Queer for the Future (QFF) was one of JFF’s first ERGs to launch. QFF supports staff who identify as LGBTQ, meeting monthly for facilitated and open conversation, which creates a safe space that builds trust and rapport. Creating a greater sense of psychological safety through QFF, employees have been able to share their challenges without fear of reprisal. QFF co-chairs have built a robust dialogue with JFF leadership and the People & Culture team, advocating for the evolution of policies and procedures that better support not only QFF members but also other demographics of JFF staff. 

By listening to LGBTQ voices within your organization, through formal or informal channels, you can understand potential policy needs that could elevate opportunities for all employees.  

Action steps:

  • Develop a rationale and need for ERGs at your organization, drawing on any organizational climate surveys or employee demographic data. Ensure commitment from top leadership, allocate necessary funding, and provide training for ERG leaders. 
  • Define clear goals and a framework through a charter to outline the ERG’s mission, primary objectives, and leadership structure, and ensure alignment with the organization’s DEI strategy.
  • Launch an outreach campaign to recruit ERG leaders, senior sponsors, and members, and consider a phased approach that includes a pilot period with intentional support and opportunities to collect feedback and learnings. 

Creating a worker-centered, inclusive environment that emphasizes diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging, and well-being means giving employees more than protection from harassment.

Evaluate the inclusivity of corporate health care policies 

Equitable benefits for LGBTQ workers and their families are one of the pillars of the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index. In 2023, 73% of the Fortune 500 companies offered transgender-inclusive health insurance. Of the companies surveyed, 63% created specific LGBTQ benefits guides.  

Even without identity-based guides, we must consider how employees’ identities impact their utilization and experience of health care. For example, gender-affirming care and equitable fertility policies can be crucial for LGBTQ employees. Plans may have restrictions that make such health care services prohibitively expensive, or certain services may not be covered.  

In May 2022, JFF implemented a health care policy enabling employees to travel to access reproductive or gender-affirming care that may not be offered in their state. However, there was still room to improve with policies related to equitable family-building. Based on QFF’s recommendation, JFF’s People & Culture team is considering expanding the health care travel policy to include travel related to family-building care, including fertility and reproductive care services.  

Consider reviewing your organization’s health care policy to ensure equitable access to care. Undertake a thorough review and engage colleagues of various identities. 

Action Steps:

  • Identify and track key employee insurance and benefits utilization metrics, and regularly solicit employee feedback about their insurance and benefits offerings to ensure that they align with all employees’ needs. 
  • Identify any gaps in benefits, such as gaps in fertility coverage or gender-affirming care, and provide employees with relevant and timely stabilizing support. 
  • Consider supplementing health care benefits with well-being initiatives, which include improving workplace safety and identifying and reducing workplace stress causes. 


By listening to LGBTQ voices within your organization, through formal or informal channels, you can understand potential policy needs that could elevate opportunities for all employees.

Ensure travel and safety protocols, including opportunities for workers who can’t travel 

Traveling can be a stressful and fear-inducing experience for many people. The U.S. Department of State recognizes that LGBTQ travelers, women, people of certain races and ethnicities and religions, individuals with disabilities, older travelers, and others may experience challenges traveling, including but not limited to discrimination and harassment, and inability to access critical goods and services.  

QFF, in partnership with JFF’s ERG for women, Women Empowered at JFF (WE@JFF), raised concerns about business travel to JFF leadership. Several employee groups, including pregnant individuals, women, nonbinary, and transgender employees, expressed concern about travel to areas where they face increased risk of experiencing discrimination, harassment, or other violence. Pregnant employees had concerns about traveling to locations where they may not have equitable access to medical services, including reproductive care and abortion care; trans and nonbinary employees expressed concerns about being criminalized for accessing restroom facilities.   

Through these anecdotal conversations, QFF helped JFF prioritize ensuring awareness of non-gendered bathrooms and lactation facilities in JFF offices, to ensure that staff traveling between offices had access to appropriate facilities. The People & Culture team facilitated follow-up conversations with office managers, provided signage pointing to these resources, and posted the information on our intranet. 

In many organizations, employee travel is an expectation or a part of the culture, resulting in hesitancy for employees who bring additional health or safety concerns, including LGBTQ staff. At JFF, the dialogue between ERGs, the People & Culture team, and leadership revealed a need to continuously invest in creative and intentional opportunities for relationship building and professional development, aiming to mitigate barriers that may disproportionally impact employees who choose not to travel. Such investment includes alternative pathways to career development (like virtual events and remote learning), auditing travel policies, and educating people managers for better awareness of travel risks. The many staff still hitting the road want to understand what risk management and mitigation processes are in place and what support they can access in real time. JFF is now reviewing the travel policy and safety guidelines to ensure employees have support when traveling for work.    

Action Steps

  • Center well-being and workplace safety and identify and reduce causes of workplace stress related to travel; initiate conversations with your employees to understand their travel-related safety and inclusion concerns.   
  • Conduct a review of the organization’s current travel and safety policies and identify gaps for improvement, ensuring employees are aware of and feel empowered to use alternative options.
  • Identify related and available employee resources, such as mental health and legal support, through the employee assistance program (EAP).
  • Reflect on whether large-scale organizational events such as all-staff retreats are offered in environments where all employees feel included and can participate. Ensure gender-neutral bathrooms and lactation spaces are available and accessible. Provide alternate options for employees who choose not to travel, such as virtual arrangements or local meet-ups. 

In uncertain times, companies that recognize the value of attracting, developing, and retaining talent know that prioritizing their workers’ well-being is non-negotiable. By thinking about corporate policies through the lens of identity, you will see opportunities to make a powerful difference in the safety and well-being of all demographics of your staff.