While LGBTQ+ rights have continued to improve over the years, there is more work to do to tackle inequality
We’ll keep playing our part in fighting against discrimination in all forms, promoting equality and diversity, with aim to:
- Increasing the visibility of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (“LGBTQ+”) people, their history, lives and their experiences in our workplace culture and the wider community;
- Raising awareness on matters affecting the LGBTQ+ community;
- Working to make educational and other institutions safe spaces for all LGBTQ+ communities; and
- Promoting the welfare of LGBTQ+ people, by ensuring that our workplace recognises and enables LGBTQ+ people to achieve their full potential.
There are a wealth of resources to help educate and raise awareness at https://lgbtplushistorymonth.co.uk/
The Equality Act 2010 provides that employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees based on their gender or sexual orientation.
A Stonewall study found that over a third of LGBTQ+ employees fear potential scrutiny and negativity so choose to hide their sexual orientation in the workplace.
Management need to convey a clear message around the importance of diversity to help LGBTQ+ employees feel more secure at the workplace.
Key steps that organisations can take include:
- Distribution of an inclusion and diversity policy outlining how outdated stereotypes will be challenged
- Promoting equal opportunities for LGBTQ+ and other minority employees
- Setting specific targets (for example the BBC aim to increase their LGBTQ+ workforce through changes to recruitment processes)
Employers have legal obligations to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of their employees and should take into consideration how LGBTQ+ employees are being treated at work. It could be that your business has a culture that allows ‘office banter’ that is in fact classed as bullying or harassment.
Employers need to be aware that they can also be vicariously liable for these workplace situations even if they did not know about them. Significant compensation claims can arise from bullying and harassment; so employers must ensure they implement and maintain a zero tolerance approach to this issue and all accusations are fully investigated. Management should also make clear that any acts of misconduct in this area will be met with disciplinary action.
Holding regular and compulsory equality and diversity training to further promote awareness is also advisable, this could be part of an induction process or from time to time. Management should be fully competent in responding to the needs and requirements of every employee.
Employers should also consider implementing open forums to invite any concerns or suggestions from employees to be shared confidentially. Through this, management will be able to process and understand employees’ views, identify areas for improvement, and help to reassure the workforce that their comments are being addressed and taken seriously at a senior level.