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Despite the recent focus on gender and sexual harassment issues it is worth recalling that there other forms of discrimination in the workplace which merit attention. Recently the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual (LGBT) campaigning organisation, Stonewall published a “Work Report" indicating the outcome of a survey of more than 5000 LGBT people about their life in Britain today.   The results provide some uncomfortable reading for those concerned about workplace equality issues. They include key findings that:

• Almost 1 in 5 LGBT employees surveyed reported being the target of negative comments or conduct from work colleagues in the last year because of their LGBT status.

• 1 in 8 transsexual respondents reported being physically attacked by customers or colleagues last year because of being transsexual.

• 1 in 5 of the LGBT respondents who were looking for work said they were discriminated against because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity while trying to get a job in the last year.

• 1 in eight lesbian and gay respondents said they would not feel confident reporting any homophobic or biphobic bullying to their employer and 1 in 5 trans people reported that they would not report transphobic bullying in the   workplace.

The Report’s recommendations include the suggestion that Employer should:

• Introduce clear zero tolerance policies on homophobic, biphobic and transphobic discrimination and harassment with clear sanctions for staff and customers, actively communicating equality policies to all staff and ensuring that the route for reporting such bullying in the workplace is clear.

• Implement all staff diversity and inclusion training on what anti-LGBT discrimination or abuse might look like, why it is bad for business and how to challenge anti-LGBT attitudes among colleagues.

• Ensure that line managers have the appropriate training and support to confidently take a zero-tolerance approach to all homophobic, biphobic and transphobic abuse in the workplace.

• Develop a policy to support trans employees who are transitioning, including information on confidentiality, dress codes and using facilities.

•  Promote diverse candidates by  advertising job roles making sure that commitment to diversity and inclusion in the workplace is clearly communicated and having clear policies around recruitment and promotion, training recruiters to understand where discrimination against LGBT staff can occur in the recruitment process and how they can take steps to reduce bias.

• Monitor staff diversity to identify any areas of discrimination in career progression and collect diversity data in their exit processes where the employees leaving the organisation have the opportunity to raise LGBT related issues.

• Support visible LGBT role models through facilitating the formation of LGBT network groups so that LGBT employees have visible role models and peers.

• Empower senior leaders to make visible commitments to LGBT equality, speaking at internal diversity events, meeting with the LGBT employee network group and finally supporting events like Pride and LGBT History Month and displaying LGBT friendly posters to show employees and clients that their business supports equality.

Comment

Although it is important to note that it is not possible to extrapolate the findings across all UK workplaces and the true extent of LGBT discrimination cannot solely be determined from subjective accounts the Report and its recommendation contained within it provide useful insight into the issues for employers and tools to tackle this area of workplace discrimination which is receiving greater prominence and which, just as much as other areas of equality, can have significant implications for employers in relation to matters such as recruitment, retention, productivity and risk management of potential Employment Tribunal claims.

If you have any queries in relation to the approach to these issues within your organisation please get in touch with a member of the Stronachs Employment Team.

Eric Gilligan, Partner

Chambers UK 2018

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