Being ‘out’ as part of the LGBT+ community at work

Research carried out by Stonewall in 2018 discovered that when at work, becoming 'out' and open about your sexuality if you are part of the LGBT+ community was still a problem. Over 35% of LGBT+ workers admitted hiding their identity at work due to fear of discrimination, with this rising to 42% for LGBT+ BAME colleagues and 51% for transgender staff.

Tue 13th April 2021 The PDA

The research further revealed that 18% of LGBT+ workers had been the target of negative comments or conduct from their colleagues within that year because they were a member of this community. Those who identified as BAME or disabled in addition to being LGBT+ were more likely to experience harassment and abuse in the workplace. With 10% of LGBT+ and BAME workers reporting being attacked by customers or colleagues within that year, compared to 3% of white people.

Further, 24% of trans workers said they did not get a promotion they were up for at work because they were transgender, compared to 7% of LGB people who were not transgender. Additionally, 24% of LGBT+ disabled people said they were excluded by colleagues in that year.

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) recently highlighted that the Covid-19 pandemic has made the situation worse for LGBT+ individuals, with these workers being disproportionately at risk of being unfairly targeted for redundancy. Before the pandemic, TUC research found that 40% of LGBT+ workers had been harassed or discriminated against at work, but the Galop LGBT+ anti-violence charity and trade unions all reported a sharp increase since the pandemic began, especially among key workers on the front line.

A recent survey carried out by the PDA LGBT+ Network found that 75% of members were out to their wider friendship circle, yet this figure was not reflected in the workplace, where only 50% said they were out to all of their colleagues. 25% of members reported that they were out to most of their colleagues, with another 18% just being out to close colleagues, and some not being out to anybody at work. Only 37% of members said they were out to their manager/s.

To improve the situation in the workplace, employers could be encouraged to review certain policies and risk assessments. For example, risk assessments could look at reducing harassment by examining particular risks, such as lone working and patient-facing tasks.

PDA LGBT+ Network Member, Soh Xi Ken (he/him), said “As much as I am saddened to read that 42% of BAME LGBT+ staff hide their identity at work, I, as a gay Asian man, can definitely relate to this statistic. Employers can definitely do better in amplifying queer voices, supporting them against discrimination and especially microaggressions in the workplace.”

LGBT+ allies can support by educating themselves and challenging phobia when it occurs. They can also ensure that they include LGBT+ workers in events and discussions, listening to the issues that LGBT+ people raise and respecting their boundaries.

 

By Jayne Love (she/her), PDA Organiser and LGBT+ Network Coordinator

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