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Stonewall reveals coming out at work still a problem

  • More than a third of LGBT staff (35 per cent) have hidden that they are LGBT at work for fear of discrimination.

  • One in ten black, Asian and minority ethnic LGBT employees (10 per cent) have been physically attacked by customers or colleagues in the last year.

  • Nearly two in five bi people (38 per cent) aren’t out to anyone at work.

New research from Stonewall, Britain’s leading charity for lesbian, gay, bi and trans equality, reveals troubling discrimination in Britain’s workplaces.

The report, based on YouGov research with 3,213 LGBT employees, found that an astonishing 35 per cent of LGBT people at work have hidden their identity in the last year because they were afraid of discrimination; a figure that rises to 42 per cent for black, Asian and minority ethnic LGBT staff and 51 per cent for trans staff.

Workplace bullying continues to be a serious problem for LGBT employees. Almost one in five (18 per cent) have been the target of negative comments or conduct from work colleagues in the last year because they are LGBT. Nearly one in five LGBT people (18 per cent) who were looking for work reported that they were discriminated against because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

The situation is particularly bad for LGBT staff who are black, Asian or minority ethnic, trans or disabled, who were all found to be more likely to experience harassment and abuse in the workplace. Shockingly, one in ten black, Asian and minority ethnic LGBT employees (10 per cent) have been physically attacked by customers or colleagues in the last year, compared to three per cent of white people.

Nearly one in four trans trans (24 per cent) said they did not get a promotion they were up for at work because they were trans, compared to seven per cent of lesbian, gay and bi people who aren’t trans. Meanwhile, almost one in four LGBT disabled people (24 per cent) say they were excluded by colleagues in the last year.

On the basis of this report, Stonewall is calling for employers to develop zero-tolerance policies on homophobic, biphobic and transphobic discrimination and harassment, alongside communicating clear routes to report anti-LGBT bullying.

The charity is also calling for 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.

At Stonewall’s annual London Workplace Conference on 27 April 2018, the charity will be discussing these findings and how workplaces can better demonstrate their commitment to LGBT people. The conference tackles best practice in supporting LGBT staff and creating an environment where LGBT people at all levels feel comfortable to be visible role models. The conference features a mix of public, private and civil society organisations including the likes of the London Ambulance Service, Clifford Chance, Sussex Police, and Cardiff University.

Ruth Hunt, Chief Executive, Stonewall, said: ‘Over the past decade, leading employers across all sectors have shown a real commitment to inclusion and have taken positive steps towards LGBT equality. Unfortunately, the findings of our Work Report show there’s still lots to do. The fact that more than a third (35 per cent) of LGBT staff have hidden their identity at work for fear of discrimination shows that change is still very much needed.

‘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.

‘We’re proud to work with over 760 organisations through our Diversity Champions programme to help bring forward the day when all LGBT staff are accepted without exception in the workplace.’

Testimonies:

‘My employer is generally very supportive but doesn’t have a specific LGBT discrimination section in their policies and procedures should discrimination occur. So, if discrimination or harassment does occur – and it does – then they don’t effectively handle things and the LGBT person is blamed for causing problems and being over sensitive.’ – Mollie, 51 (Yorkshire and the Humber)

‘I have not come out to anyone where I currently live or work. I would not feel comfortable or safe coming out to any of my colleagues and have felt reluctant to make friends where I live now in case they find out about my trans history.’ - Tom, 42 (East Midlands)

‘While serving a customer at work I corrected them on pronouns and they laughed in my face and asked me if I had a penis and told me I was wrong. My supervisor witnessed the whole thing and told me not to be so dramatic about it.’ - Ross, 23 (Scotland)

‘My office is using the word ‘gay’ as an insult or a slang term. I feel their ignorance regarding bisexual people will be worse. If these particular individuals didn’t work in my office anymore I’d feel comfortable being out in the workplace.’ – Megan, 34 (Wales)

To read the full LGBT in Britain: Work Report visit: https://www.stonewall.org.uk/lgbt-britain-work

For more details of the Stonewall London Workplace Conference 2018 visit: www.stonewall.org.uk/events/stonewall-workplace-conference-london-2018