Over the last ten years, major steps have been taken by businesses to support LGBT employees and create inclusive workplaces.  The psychology and evidence is clear why this must be a prioritised initiative for all organisations; people perform considerably better when they can be themselves at work.

From a productivity point of view, this can impact both the business performance as well as the individuals. By demonstrating commitment to LGBT inclusion, you will undoubtedly see an increase in your brand strength, talent attraction and retention. Individuals will feel more supported and therefore motivated and thus improve workplace relationships.

Is this a difficult task?

Absolutely not. To become an LGBT inclusive employer, it can be as easy as implementing everyday actions. Supporting the local LGBT community and creating safe groups for your LGBT employees to come together and share experiences can enhance the workplace further. Despite these simple acts, businesses must take discrimination seriously throughout their recruitment process, as well as their promotion processes. Equal opportunities need to be evident at the application process, through to employee benefits and development opportunities.

Things must be looking better then?

Not quite… unfortunately there are some shocking statistics proving there is a lot of work still to do: –

  • In the UK, 34% of LGBT people choose not to disclose their sexuality at work
  • In 2018, 1 in 5 LGBT people said they were discriminated against because of their sexual orientation or gender identity
  • Gay and lesbian job seekers are 5% less likely than a heterosexual applicant to be offered a job interview
  • 20% of LGBT employees working in the tech industry had been a victim of bullying or hostility in the workplace that had led to them leaving their jobs
  • 51% of trans people have hidden their identity at work through fear of abuse or discrimination
  • 1 in 8 trans employees have been physically attacked in the workplace by colleagues or customers

There are positives

In 2018, The National Assembly for Wales were recognised as the leading employer for LGBT inclusivity and a top trans-inclusive employer in Britain. This has been achieved through a number of measures including; offering an Mx title on their work systems, gender neutral facilities and the opportunity for staff to give their own gender terms on forms.

Barclays have established their Barclays Spectrum programme, which supports LGBT in huge corporations.

Both these examples demonstrate how important it is to communicate a clear mission to all employees through educating and training them on inclusion policies and support strategies. The big buy in must be from the top, where championing these initiatives can drive an incremental change.

About the top

With only one openly gay CEO in the FTSE 100 and only one in the FTSE 500, is the message of inclusion not reaching the most senior levels?

Arguably, CEOs are from an older generation, where there is less acceptance or tolerance of same-sex relationships. With the younger generation being much more open to LGBT issues, hopefully over time we should see a shift in this current underrepresentation.

What else can be done now?

To encourage LGBT employees to reach their potential in an inclusive environment, more awareness is needed. Even if a workplace is accepting of the LGBT community, some ‘banter’ or ‘good spirited comments’ could cause LGBT staff to feel isolated or hurt by such chat. No one should feel like they can’t be themselves at work, or that they are singled out.

Equality needs to be reflected in how employees are paid as well. A study carried out by hired.com found that there were pay gaps between LGBT and non-LGBT employees.

Wages (both expected and received) from highest to lowest

  1. Non-LGBTQ men
  2. LGBTQ men
  3. Non-LGBTQ women
  4. LGBTQ women

There is no quick fix, as the evidence shows. But if the industry can work together and drive the short-term action as part of a long-term business strategy; we can gradually make the right kind of progress to boost the digital and tech industry and beyond.

Join the debate

Here are RedCat Digital, we have recognised the importance for diversity and inclusion in organisations. We are now heavily invested in actively trying to make a change and add value where we can with our brand new D&I change management programme available to all businesses.

For more details on how to be a part of this scheme, please contact Sarah Childs, Director of Diversity and Inclusion.

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