Workplace Guides: Religion and Sexual Orientation

Home | Summary | Not a new issue | Where to draw the line 
Case studies | How to prevent and respond to incidents

Top Ten Tips 

1. Acknowledge that it might be a problem 

Organisations that recognise that there could be potential opposition to sexual orientation equality have developed plans to counteract it. By thinking ahead, they’ve found it easier to respond.

2. Develop clear strategies 

All employees, service providers and suppliers should abide by diversity and equality policies that include sexual orientation. Equality managers are able to point out how behaviour deviates from these policies.

3. Decide where the line is, and be robust about it 

Decide in advance what constitutes reasonable behaviour from all staff. Identify what responsibilities fall to all staff and how to respond if a member of staff refuses to fulfil those duties.

4. Get buy-in from the top

Senior support for any position is essential if managers are going to be confident about challenging unreasonable behaviour. Organisations must be consistent in their approach.

5. Communicate strategies and explain them 

Opposition sometimes comes from a lack of understanding. Ensure all staff understand why sexual orientation strategies are in place, and how they might be implemented.

6. Check job descriptions 

Some staff might think they do not have to carry out certain tasks or responsibilities if this is not included in their job description. Ensure that all job descriptions are compatible with equality and diversity strategies.

7. Bring groups together 

Organisations who encourage groups of people such as gay staff and people of faith to work together find that working relationships improve across the organisation. Identify opportunities for joint working.

8. Treat all parties with dignity and respect 

Even if a member of staff seems to be acting in a discriminatory way, treat them with dignity and respect. Find ways to solve the problem, rather than excluding or discriminating against the individual.

9. The importance of mediation 

Bring in other parties in to help if two parties are struggling to find common ground. Mediation and training is often more effective in the long term than disciplinary action.

10. Using formal processes 

If absolutely necessary, however, be prepared to use formal disciplinary proceedings. Ensure that all policies and practices are robust and state clearly what is expected from staff in terms of equality and diversity. Ensure that those who manage formal processes understand how and why issues might arise between people of faith and lesbian and gay people. Also ensure they apply the principles of the organisation consistently.


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