Employers in Scotland are being urged to take part in an equality scheme to end homophobic bullying at work and improve working conditions for gay and lesbian employees.
Diversity Champions Scotland has been developed by campaign group Stonewall Scotland and is supported by the Scottish Executive.
Participating businesses will take part in an ‘equality index’ to assess how they deal with homosexual employees. They will be given access to awareness training and workshops and a programme manager will advise them on setting up support networks for gay and lesbian workers.
Businesses will also be encouraged to advertise jobs in gay and lesbian publications to help improve diversity.
Companies will pay a fee of up to £2,000 to join the scheme.
Calum Irving, director of Stonewall Scotland, said: “The whole point of Diversity Champions Scotland is that people work better when they can be themselves.
“By promoting diversity, employers would discover happier employees, better customer service and a more effective organisation.”
Many companies are ignorant of the problems faced by gay and lesbian employees, Irving said.
“Far too many still believe that they don’t have problems with sexual orientation in the workplace without realising that gay employees often don’t report homophobic bullying for fear of being ‘outed’ or facing retribution.”
Only three employers in Scotland – HBOS bank, Strathclyde Police and Strathclyde Fire and Rescue – currently make it into the top 100 British employers for favourable conditions for gay and lesbian workers.
“The best employers are the ones that admit they’re not perfect but are willing to change their policies and practice so that they can improve,” said Irving.