Sexual orientation at work – over 30% of LGBT employees hide this

A survey of 3,213 employees carried out by YouGov showed that a staggering 30% of LGBT people kept their identities concealed at work.

Stonewall - the gay, bisexual and trans campaign group - has called for employers to implement zero-tolerance policies regarding discrimination based on sexual orientation among employees.

The study showed that 35% of LGBT employees felt that they would be discriminated against to such an extent that they would never consider coming out to their colleagues. This figure was broken down into trans staff 51% and Asian and other ethnic minorities being at 42%.

One of the significant factors among those surveyed was workplace bullying, with 18% admitting that they had already been the target of negative comments due to their sexual orientation.

Stonewall – as part of the zero-tolerance policy – has asked employers to play a more active role in supporting staff. This should be in the form of carrying out awareness sessions for all employees, which should include the development of a transition as work policy as well as trans inclusion suggestions.

Chief executive of Stonewall, Ruth Hunt, stated that not only is it the right thing to do, but creating a comfortable workplace where all employees are accepted makes good business sense. If staff are comfortable and happy in their employment, they will perform better. When staff feel that they must keep secret a part of their lives, tensions arise, and the workplace suffers.

Ms Hunt went on to say that it is vital that more organisations and companies become more active and visible in showing support for LGBT employees.   

Responding to the Stonewall report, accountancy giant EY has announced their support of the new initiative to implement assistance for non-binary and trans people in the workplace as well as in the community.

The Stonewall programme – named Trans Allies – has been designed to assist non-trans people in tackling anti-trans discrimination. It will also play a part in showing the best way to support trans colleagues in the workplace.

A benchmark document regarding best employer practice, as well as an internal guide identifying gender transition and gender identity was published by EY in 2015.

Steve Varley, UK chair of EY, said that their goal was to create a workplace where all employees could express their individual gender identity. The company also wanted to support any employees who were undergoing gender transition. It is important that these employees feel supported by both colleagues and bosses.

Stonewall Director of Empowerment Programmes, Sanjay Sood-Smith admitted that they were aware that trans and non-binary people faced discrimination and possibly abuse in everyday life, both at home and in the workplace. Over half of them keep their identities hidden at work for fear of abuse and discrimination. Having companies such as EY to support and back the Trans Allies programme showed that there is strong support for employees with different sexual orientations in the workforce.

Also committed to supporting the Trans Allies programme are companies including Barclays, Lloyds Banking Group, Linklaters, the House of Commons, and the National Assembly for Wales.



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