Are employers doing enough to support LGBT employees?
Over the last decade, organisations in all sectors have made huge strides in supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) employees and creating an inclusive workplace. The evidence is clear: companies that embrace LGBT policies outperform their competitors. Diversity helps draw top talent and foster innovation, and people perform significantly better when they can be themselves at work.
However, 34% of LGBT people in the UK still choose not to disclose their sexuality at work. Fear of homophobia, exclusion, being passed over for promotions and job interviews are still very real for many LGBT people. In fact, gay and lesbian job seekers are 5% less likely to be offered a job interview than heterosexual applicants with comparable skills and experience.
So, what can businesses do to better support LGBT employees?
- Develop and communicate a clear mission to all employees, through education and diversity training about inclusion policies and strategies for supporting LGBT employees.
- Take discrimination seriously in recruitment and promotion practices.
- Establish a strong anti-discrimination policy and be sure all employees know what is not tolerated in the workplace, and in cases of homophobic bullying, promptly recognise the problem and take action.
- Develop support and engagement programmes for LGBT employees such as mentoring, employee networking groups, seminars and conferences.
- Gain the support from the very top and promote senior staff champions, who can help implement diversity initiatives, mentor junior LGBT colleagues, and act as sponsors of employee network groups.
- Create a gender-neutral environment by making bold changes such as establishing unisex toilets and using gender-neutral language, like ‘partner’ instead of husband or wife.