With June comes Pride month, a month dedicated to celebrating LGBT+ identity and raising awareness of the social and political inequalities surrounding sexual orientation and gender identity that exist within our society.
While this year’s Pride month will undoubtedly be celebrated differently given the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown restrictions across the UK, it still marks an opportunity to reflect on the inequalities LGBT+ people face across society − including within organisations, and to consider the steps people professionals must take to support LGBT inclusion.
Unfortunately many LGBT+ people are still unable to be themselves at work – with over a third of LGBT+ staff noting that they have hidden their sexual orientation or gender identity at work. A further fifth have experienced negative comments or behavior from work colleagues over the last year because they are LGBT+.
Amongst transgender employees, 12% have been attacked by a customer or colleague in the last year due to their trans identity. The CIPD, in partnership with Aston University, is currently working to further explore the experience of trans workers within UK organisations in greater detail, as well as how people professionals can greater support them at work.
The CIPD believes that an individual’s sexual orientation and gender identity should not affect whether they get a job, benefit from training or impact upon their career progression. Everyone deserves to be able to work within a safe, inclusive and fair environment, be fairly rewarded and be able to voice their perspectives or concerns.
Many employees also still suffer harassment at work due to their LGBT+ status. Every organisation should have a zero-tolerance to discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender reassignment. Across the workforce within their organisations, people professionals need to set behavioural expectations through policies and initiatives. It’s essential these are brought alive and exhibited through the behaviour of employees, ensuring an inclusive workplace culture and the creation of a safe space for all.
It’s also within the interests of any organisation to ensure they both understand and respond positively to LGBT+ issues to attract and retain talented individuals.
The CIPD has a number of recommendations for employers in ensuring they create inclusive and safe workplace’s for LGBT+ employees:
- Take steps towards building an inclusive culture - critically assess your organisation culture. Do you have a culture of inclusivity at work? Are your policies and practices underpinned by principles that actively celebrate and encourage differences? Do you have mechanisms in place through which employees can voice issues about inequality and voice their opinions on what needs to change?
- Review your organisation’s policies to ensure they are gender-neutral and inclusive. Clear and enforced policies can reduce homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying. Policies should include practical examples of unacceptable behaviour.
- Work closely with managers to ensure they implement people management practices fairly and understand how to support all LGBT+ staff.
- Educate, inform and support line managers to improve their understanding trans inclusion and gender reassignment.
- Work with an LGBT+ staff network in a positive and active way, ensuring a two-way dialogue and utilising staff insight and expertise to evaluate and change people policies, processes and the organisation culture.
- Champion LGBT+ inclusion from the top of the organisation, by promoting and supporting LGBT+ progression and developing allies at the leadership level.
For more information, see our Diversity and Inclusion topic page.
Championing better work and working lives
About the CIPD
At the CIPD, we champion better work and working lives. We help organisations to thrive by focusing on their people, supporting economies and society for the future. We lead debate as the voice for everyone wanting a better world of work.