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Important notes for employers during Pride Month

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June is Pride Month, a month dedicated to celebrating and embracing the diversity of the LGBTQ+ community. It is also a time to recognise the progress that has been made in advancing the rights of LGBTQ+ people while acknowledging the work that still has to be done. In honour of Pride Month, our Employment Law team discusses the duties employers owe to their LGBTQ+ employees and how they can make their workplace more inclusive.

Why focus on the LGBTQ+ community?

Though much progress has been made towards protecting LGBTQ+ rights in the workplace, many LGBTQ+ individuals still experience discrimination and hostility. A 2021 report published by DIVA, a LGBTQ+ magazine, found that only 68% of LGBTQ+ women were open about their sexual orientation with most or all of their work colleagues and 14% were not open with any of their colleagues. The report also revealed troubling statistics about the discrimination experienced by LGBTQ+ women in the workplace, finding that in the past year:

  • 22% have experienced negative comments or conduct from colleagues;
  •  28% have heard or seen negative comments or conduct because a colleague is perceived to be LGBTQ+; and
  • 18% have felt excluded because of their identity.

Another report produced by CIPD in early 2021 found that LGBTQ+ employees were much more likely to experience conflict in the workplace than their heterosexual colleagues, and despite changing attitudes towards LGBTQ+ people, many still do not feel supported. According to CIPD “90% of cisgender workers said they would offer support to transgender workers, but only 61% of transgender workers thought that cisgender, heterosexual colleagues would offer support.”

These statistics are troubling, but there are actions that you as an employer can take to make your workplace more inclusive and welcoming for LGBTQ+ people.

Legal protections in the workplace for LGBTQ+ people

The Equality Act 2010 protects employees from direct and indirect discrimination, harassment, and victimisation because of gender, gender reassignment, and sexual orientation. Recent case law has confirmed these protections also apply to those who identify as gender fluid and non-binary.

You have a duty not to subject LGBTQ+ employees to less favourable treatment and to do all you reasonably can to prevent discrimination or harassment by other employees. Examples of how you should ensure this in your organisation include:

  • You should have a clear policy in place stating that discrimination in any form will not be tolerated.
  • Monitor your workplace culture and ensure your employees understand what is acceptable. For example, are discriminatory comments and offensive jokes frequently dismissed as “banter”?
  • Consider providing regular equality and diversity training if you do not already, and ensure it covers discrimination of LGBTQ+ people.
  • Have a clear process for how to report instances of discrimination and harassment, and if an employee does make a complaint this should be taken seriously and properly investigated.

Practical measures employers can take to support those in the LGBTQ+ community

There are several actions you can take to make your workplace more inclusive and welcoming to LGBTQ+ people. Small things, such as using gender neutral language, or including pronouns in your organisation’s email signature can help signal that your organisation supports the LGBTQ+ community.

You may consider reviewing your recruitment and promotion procedures and evaluate how you can encourage more applications from people in the LGBTQ+ community to your organisation and their promotion to leadership roles. During recruitment, you may want to:

  • expand your advertising to reach a wider applicant pool;
  • include a statement outlining your commitment to diversity in the job posting;
  • provide mandatory anti-bias training to your interviewers; and
  • ask candidates for feedback on their experience.

Champion LGBTQ+ employees within your organisation to reach leadership roles by ensuring they have adequate support and are given opportunities to advance. Having visible members of the LGBTQ+ community in leadership roles can encourage others to apply for jobs and promotions.

Another strategy is to encourage the creation of LGBTQ+ networks within your organisation. You can do this by providing spaces for LGBTQ+ employees or holding networking events during working hours. Engaging with these networks can then help you gain a better understanding of the issues LGBTQ+ employees may face in your workplace and how you can support them.

Employers who take action and make an effort to be more inclusive and welcoming to LGBTQ+ people will ultimately benefit from a more diverse and loyal workforce. If you have any questions about your obligations towards LGBTQ+ people and how you can make your workplace more inclusive, contact our Employment Law Team today on 023 8071 7717 or email employment@warnergoodman.co.uk.

To receive regular Employment Law updates from the team regarding recent tribunal cases and legislation updates, you can subscribe to our weekly Employment Law Newsletter by completing our subscription form or emailing us at events@warnergoodman.co.uk

ENDS

This is for information purposes only and is no substitute for, and should not be interpreted as, legal advice.  All content was correct at the time of publishing and we cannot be held responsible for any changes that may invalidate this article.