The UK Equality Act 2010 protects lesbian, gay, bi and trans people from direct discrimination, indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation at work. All employers have to follow the Equality Act regardless of the size or nature of the business. Protection occurs throughout the employment cycle, beginning with the application stage right until the notice period. However, there are still cases of reported workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation.
The Facts (as outlined from a study by YouGov and Stonewall in 2018)
- Almost 1 in 5 LGBT staff have been the target of negative comments or conduct from work colleagues in the last year because they are LGBT.
- 1 in 10 BAME LGBT staff (10%) have been physically attacked because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity, compared to 3% of white LGBT staff.
- More than one-third of LGBT staff (35%) have hidden or disguised that they are LGBT at work in the last year because they were afraid of discrimination.
- Almost 1 in 5 LGBT people (18%) who were looking for work said they were discriminated against because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity when trying to get a job in 2017.
How can employers promote greater diversity and inclusivity of LGBT people in the workplace?
Develop Clear Policies
Create a zero-tolerance policy on LGBT discrimination and harassment, with clear sanction for staff and customers.
Communicate the zero-tolerance policy to all staff and ensure that they can report any form of harassment and bullying in the workplace.
Support Staff Through Training
Carry out diversity and inclusion training that explains what anti-LGBT discrimination or abuse might look like and how to challenge anti-LGBT attitudes among employees.
Ensure that the managers have appropriate training and support to carry out a zero-tolerance approach to all LGBT abuse in the workplace.
Recruit and Promote Diverse Candidates
Include statements and a commitment to LGBT staff and equality and include on your website. Communicate that your business is committed to diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
Train your recruitment team to understand where discrimination against LGBT staff can occur in the recruitment process and take steps to avoid unconscious bias.
Support for LGBT Role Models
Encourage the formation of an LGBT network group at your workplace so that LGBT employees have visible role models and peers.
Who are the best LGBT inclusive employers? What have they done?
Some of the top 100 inclusive employers for 2020 included Newcastle City Council, Gentoo Group, Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, Pinsent Masons, Ministry of Justice, GSK, Citi, National Assembly for Wales, Welsh Government, Cardiff University. The full list can be found at https://www.stonewall.org.uk/full-list-top-100-employers-2020
Some of these employers have robust policies to support employees who are transitioning, for example, some have published clears FAQs that include details such as who they can contact for support, including within HR, the LGBT+ network and external organisations. Moreover, some also offer a checklist for HR and managers to ensure they are appropriately supporting staff members, which include which documents may need to be changed and how the employee would like to be informed.
Employers like Newcastle City Council have worked to ensure that their practices are LGB inclusive for all staff, at all employment stages. For example, they have hosted events for the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia, offering the community the opportunity to connect with LGBT-inclusive employers.
Citi group have established a Pride Network who have hosted a range of diversity and creative activities for those across the group. For example, they have previously hosted events like Bi 101 and Trans 101 to educate and support those around them.
Some employers encourage employees to step up as allies to the community; for example, the group Allen & Overy LLP have more than 700 registered allies globally. These allies also help to organise events to raise awareness of LGBT+ inclusion, including sessions such as ‘LGBT+ Families’ and a talk by former Rugby international Gareth Thomas on mental health within the LGBT+ community.
Other employers have also frequently engaged with the community. For example, Vodafone has regularly sponsored and aiding LGBT events. For example, they recently partnered with MicroRainbow to provide CV workshops to LGBT+ refugees and asylum seekers in London and sponsoring pride events.
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LinkedIn: Sunrock Recruitment Ltd