New research into the experiences of lesbians in the workplace published today by Stonewall finds that gay and bisexual women often think their gender is more of a barrier to success at work than their sexual orientation. However, for those who have felt able to come out at work, the personal and professional benefits have been considerable.
The Double-Glazed Glass Ceiling, sponsored by Lloyds TSB, finds that many gay and bisexual women fear gender discrimination and, as a result, are more likely to hide their sexual orientation.
The report features interviews with lesbian and bisexual women from both the private and public sectors and discusses their experiences, perceptions and expectations of the impact that their sexuality might have on them at work.
Ruth Hunt, Stonewall Head of Policy, said: 'Women know that in 2008 the glass ceiling is very much still in place. What this report shows is that for lesbians, that glass ceiling is double-glazed. It's no surprise therefore that Britain's two million lesbians remain almost invisible at work. In publishing this report Stonewall wants to see that change.'
Interviewees pointed to a lack of openly gay women in the workplace, with many expressing the opinion that such role models made a crucial difference to the confidence and profile of lesbians and bisexual women in working environments.
Among the recommendations made by the report are that employers should promote career development opportunities to lesbian and bisexual women and encourage them to develop confidence and assertiveness. It also recommends that employers should support and enable lesbian and bisexual senior members of staff to be out and involved in awareness raising initiatives.
Fiona Canon, Equality and Diversity Director at Lloyds TSB, said: 'We believe that employers have a vital role to play in further equality for lesbian, gay and bisexual people. Our own research shows that our lesbian and bisexual women face different challenges and opportunities to other staff groups and, for us, exploring this is the next step towards making Lloyds TSB a genuinely great place to work for all our LGB staff.'
arrying out research, publishing briefings and working with government, trade unions, business, NGOs and policy institutions to develop ideas and policy that remove discrimination and improve the lives of lesbians, gay men and bisexual people.
For further information contact: James Lawrence, Communications Officer (020 7593 1857) or Nathaniel Miles, Policy Officer (020 7593 1859).
1. The Double-Glazed Glass Ceiling can be downloaded on our website
2. There are no known lesbian directors of FTSE100 companies. Only one parliamentarian out of more than 1,300 is openly lesbian
3. Stonewall's Diversity Champions programme for major employers advises organisations across the public and private sectors on how to recruit and retain lesbian, gay and bisexual staff. The programme now has over 440 members employing 4.5 million people.
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