- Lesbian: a woman who is primarily attracted to women.
- Gay: a man who is primarily attracted to a men. Also used as a broad term for those attracted to the same sex.
- Bisexual: an individual attracted to people of their own and opposite gender.
- Transgender: a person whose gender identity is different to their assigned sex at birth.
- Queer: an umbrella term used to be inclusive of all identities and variations in the LGBTQIA+ community.
- Intersex: an individual whose chromosomes or sexual biology does not fit within traditional "male" and "female". May also share fem- and masc- inclinations and preferences.
- Asexual: a person who does not feel sexual desire or attraction to any group of people. It has sub-groups with variation in asexuality and is not identical to celibacy.
- + Plus: This is used to be inclusive of all groups within the LGBTQIA+ umbrella. Some examples are Pansexual or Allies.
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Inclusive workplaces have a huge part to play in this making this world a fair and open space for all. But inclusion is not always a given and coming out at work can still be a risk for LGBTQIA+ individuals. The best employers understand why all their employees should feel welcome, respected and represented at work. Inclusion is able to drive better individual, business and organisational outcomes. Staff must be able to bring their whole selves to work, because when LGBTQIA+ employees feel free to be themselves, everybody benefits. A culture of 'silence' prevents LGBTQIA+ staff from encompassing their sexual identity with their work identity, which can lead to dissatisfaction and lower rates of employment (Priola et al., 2014).
Adapted from "Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender workplace issues: quick take" from Catalyst.org (2021).
- It is ifficult to determine the size of LGBTQIA+ population - not everyone has the opportunity to express themselves at work.
- LGBTQIA+ employees can face hostility or discrimination in the workplace - one in ten BAME LGBT staff have been attacked at work (Read the Stonewall report).
- Not all LGBTQIA+ people experience the same barriers to access and research is not inclusive enough.
- Fear can prevent LGBTQIA+ people bringing their 'full' selves to work, including not being represented in leadership positions.
Key Findings from Stonewall (2018) LGBT at work report:
- 18% of LGBT staff members have been target of negative comments or conduct from work colleagues because of their sexual orientation.
- 12% of LGBT people wouldn't feel confident reporting homophobic or biphobic bullying to their employers. Further to this, 21% wouldn't report transphobic bullying in their workplace.
- Read more about the report here.
This survey was conducted with 5,000 respondents and highlights the discrimination faced by LGBTQIA+ colleagues. These statistics allow us to understand the challenges and barriers to accessing inclusive workplaces and we should be mindful of these. What are the ways we can support LGBTQIA+ colleagues?
Ways to support and empower LGBTQIA+ colleagues
Adapted from Glassdoor and The Muse.
- First and foremost do not make assumptions. Being clear about pronouns, partner status and sometimes the lack of these is important for the individual. It provides them with agency that they may not have in other aspects of their life.
- Take LGBTQIA+ discrimination seriously. This may be through underhanded comments, false stereotypes or other means. A strong anti-discrimination policy and workplace benefits everyone.
- Develop support programmes and clear mission for supporting LGBTQIA+ employees. This can be through diversity and inclusivity training for senior employees but also establishing networks.
- Promote allies of LGBTQIA+ people. This can be by promoting workplace champions, training senior staff or safe people that LGBT employees can come to in times of need.
- Support the local LGBT community. Something as easy as getting in contact with local organisations (e.g. Stonewall) and finding out how a relationship can be created and whether webinars, events or similar things can be supported.
The MindLine Trans+ provides a safe place to talk about your feelings confidentially. Calls are not recorded and personal details are not collected. The listeners will try understand the multitude of feelings and concerns that may be going on for you. They are here to listen and offer support. This is a national helpline, you can call from anywhere in the UK.
There are volunteers with lived experience of Trans+ or are allies responding to your calls as often as possible and are open three evenings a week: Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 8pm to midnight.
The risk of coming out at work can sometimes outweigh the benefits - especially in a workplace that doesn't harbour inclusivity. Read more about these risks.
Updated on: 21/04/2022