Third of LGBT employees hide their sexual orientation at work

Photo: Tolga Akmen/LNP/REX/Shutterstock

Gay, bisexual and trans campaign group Stonewall last week called on employers to develop zero-tolerance policies on discrimination against employees on the basis of their sexual orientation.

The request came in the wake of a survey finding that more than a third of LGBT people concealed their identities at work.

The YouGov research of 3,213 LGBT employees recorded that 35% of LGBT employees feared discrimination to the extent that would not consider coming out to colleagues. The figure for trans staff was 51% and for black, Asian and other ethnic minority employees it was 42%.

Workplace bullying was also a significant factor for those surveyed, with 18% saying they had been the target of negative comments because of their sexual orientation.

As part of a policy of zero tolerance, the charity has urged employers to take an active role in supporting trans staff by running awareness sessions for all employees on trans inclusion and developing a transitioning at work policy.

Ruth Hunt, chief executive of Stonewall, said: “Creating a workplace that accepts everyone isn’t just the right thing to do, it makes good business sense. When staff feel comfortable and happy, they will perform much better than if they’re having to hide who they are. We need more organisations and businesses to be active and visible in demonstrating their support for their LGBT employees.”

Accountancy giant EY, in response to the Stonewall findings has announced its support of a new UK initiative that Stonewall is implementing to help trans and non-binary people at work and in their communities.

The Stonewall Trans Allies programme is designed to help non-trans people tackle anti-trans discrimination and best support trans people among their colleagues.

In 2015 EY published an internal guide on gender identity, expression, and gender transition to support their trans community, that has been considered a benchmark document in employer best practice.

Sanjay Sood-Smith, Stonewall’s director of empowerment programmes, told Accountancy Age: “We know trans and non-binary people face abuse and discrimination in their day-to-day lives. Half of trans and non-binary people have hidden their identity at work for fear of discrimination. Having leading organisations including EY backing our trans allies programme shows there is strong support for trans people across different sectors.

Steve Varley UK chair of EY, said the business wanted to create “a working environment where all our people can express their own individual gender identity. We also want to make sure that our colleagues who are undergoing gender transition are supported by their team and the firm”.

Other organisations that have committed to the Trans Allies programme include the House of Commons, Barclays, Linklaters, Lloyds Banking Group, and the National Assembly for Wales.


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