D-BRIEF – Employment & Pensions Blog: LGBTQ+ Inclusion

The Trade Union Congress (TUC) recently conducted research to investigate the extent of progress in recent decades in embedding formal legal protections for LGBTQ+ workers and whether this has translated into positive and inclusive experiences in the workplace.

With the end of pride month, the legal protections and rights of LGBTQ+ employees in the workplace is a prevalent topic of discussion. A review completed by Stonewall, a leading LGBTQ+ charity, found that one in five LGBTQ+ people were the target of negative comments at work. LGBTQ+ inclusion is at the forefront of many companies’ social policy and is becoming increasingly important for a cohesive workplace.

The research:

The TUC conducted 16 interviews, with people from across the UK of different ages, genders and LGBTQ+ identities across a range of job roles and sectors and questions focused on some key areas, including:

  • One’s ‘ability to be their whole self at work’, including the culture and environment in workplaces and the public stance an employer takes on LGBTQ+ issues.
  • Employers’ ‘policy vs practice’ highlighting the way on the ground behaviours of management and staff align with or contradict formal policy.

Many of the individuals interviewed felt their experiences had become more positive in recent times, highlighting that for many gay and bisexual employees, workplace experiences had improved. Of particular note, interviewees reflected on the positive impacts of diversity and inclusion networks in the workplace, describing them as ‘hugely beneficial spaces to support and be supported’.

However discriminatory experiences were also still reported, such as being misgendered, or being outed by colleagues.
Responses also indicated that whilst it was felt workplace policies were necessary, these alone were insufficient to create change and workplace cultures of acceptance and inclusivity have some way to go.

Whilst the scale of the research only reflects a small number of experiences of LGBTQ+ workers who happen to be members of a trade union, it is a snapshot of experiences which employers can draw upon in embedding their own policies and culture.

Recommendations for LGBTQ+ inclusion:

Employers can take a number of steps to ensure LGBTQ+ inclusion, including providing training and engaging with its internal networks to gather feedback on experiences in the workplace to identify trends and patterns.

Whilst it is equally important to keep workplace policies under review, this alone is unlikely to be sufficient. With the rise in demand for greater legal protection for LGBTQ+ staff, the yearn for a more inclusive culture continues to increase; with many highlighting that for policy to be truly effective, the culture of workplaces must follow suit. To help foster this, employers should take any complaints of mistreatment seriously and encourage a culture of openness where discussion in a respectful manner is welcomed, as well as space for diversity and inclusive initiatives.

For more information, please contact a member of our Employment Team.

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