On 30th January, Stonewall launched our annual list of the UK’s top 100 LGBT-inclusive employers. The list is a celebration of the 100 organisations across the country who are leading the way in making their workplaces welcoming and accepting for lesbian, gay, bi and trans staff.
In 2020, you may be forgiven for questioning why we still need initiatives like this, or for assuming that most, if not all workplaces, are already welcoming and inclusive of the LGBT community. But, sadly, we know that’s not the reality.
Lots of lesbian, gay, bi and trans people still don’t feel comfortable being themselves at work, with our research showing that over a third of LGBT staff (35%) have hidden their identity for fear of discrimination and that one in five (18%) experienced discrimination when applying for jobs because of being LGBT.
We also know that Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) LGBT people are at higher risk of abuse or of losing their jobs, while a shocking number of trans people have been the target of negative comments and discrimination from co-workers (33%).
When we talk about LGBT-inclusion at work, what we mean is feeling confident, to tell the truth about your weekend, or to talk openly about your partner. If you don’t think that you will be accepted for who you are at work, it takes a huge amount of energy to conceal parts of your personality and decide what you can share with colleagues.
We spend most of our adult lives at work, so it’s important to make an environment where everyone feels comfortable. This year, we’ve seen some amazing examples of organisations who’ve taken huge steps towards supporting their LGBT staff, and in return, they’ve seen higher levels of motivation, creativity and productivity among their staff.
Newcastle City Council, who came first in the list this year have been a shining example of inclusion. They have truly fostered an environment which works for everyone and got their council involved in lots of events to celebrate and recognise the LGBT community.
We also saw some amazing work this year from Carl Edwards, who was named our Gay Role Model of the Year for his work at Severn Trent. Carl set up the LGBT network from the ground a few years ago when he felt isolated and needed a community. Now the network is thriving and has made many changes to in their organisation to make things better for their LGBT staff, including their trans toolkit to help trans staff members.
And Carl teaches us a great thing about inclusion – which is that anyone can make that change. Whether you’re a chief executive, middle manager, or just starting out in your career, we all can play a part.
You can start with some small actions, like putting your pronouns in your e-mail signature or wearing a rainbow lanyard or pin badge in support of the community. If you’re an LGBT person and your organisation doesn’t have an LGBT network, think about setting one up. Having a place to share your experiences can be hugely helpful and understanding the problems for LGBT people within your organisation is the first step towards tackling them.
Stonewall is also always here to help. Our Diversity Champions programme works with over 750 organisations to help them find the best ways to tackle problems for their LGBT staff and ensure that everyone feels able to be themselves at work.
The more organisations that stand up for equality, the sooner our workplaces and communities become places that accept and support LGBT people – without exception.
For more information and toolkits on how to be LGBT inclusive, visit the Stonewall website.