Why workplace education is key to supporting LGBT staff

Supporting LGBT staff in the workplace

Following a recent survey by YouGov, the TUC has called for the government to introduce a range of measures to support LGBT people at work. 

Along with pay gap reporting, which indicates that LGBT workers are paid 16% less (effectively £6,703 per year), the government is being urged to consult with unions to protect LGBT people from workplace bullying and harassment, by introducing a new duty on employers to make workplaces safe. 

The poll of around 1000 HR managers, also found that: 

Bullying and harassment: Only half (51%) of managers surveyed said they had a policy prohibiting sexual discrimination,  bullying and harassment against LGBT workers in their workplace.  

Less than half (47%) said they had a clear reporting route for workers to raise concerns about discrimination, bullying and harassment against LGBT workers – even though one in seven (15%) managers had responded to bullying, harassment or discrimination against one or more LGBT workers. 

Trans workers: Just one in four (25%) managers said that they had a policy setting out support for trans (including non-binary) workers who wish to transition to live as another gender. 

Family-friendly working: Less than half (47%) of HR managers told the TUC that they had family policies (such as adoption, maternity, paternity and shared parental leave policies) that apply equally to LGBT workers. 

Of those HR managers whose workplaces that have LGBT policies in place, only around one in three (34%) have reviewed those policies in the last 12 months. 

More than one in four (28%) can’t remember when they last looked at them. 

Ensure your bullying and harassment policies are clear and inclusive 

 It is quite shocking that so many workplaces don’t have specific policies in place to support their LGBT staff, and without these policies, too many LGBT workers experience bullying, harassment and discrimination at work.  

To combat discrimination or harassment at work, business leaders should have stringent internal policies which are critical to supporting LGBT staff. Policy documents should highlight the consequences for any customers, clients, colleagues or third parties who are guilty of harassing employees, including LGBT.  

It’s also critical to make the process easier for employees to raise grievances and challenge harassment, so this behaviour never gets repeated to another colleague or person in general. Employees must visibly see that their business leaders take harassment cases very seriously and recognise that any issues get tackled straight away, so colleagues feel comfortable raising issues and know what they say matters. 

Education is key to preventing workplace misconduct 

Everyone deserves access to a safe working environment, and education is key to preventing bullying and harassment at work. Prioritising compulsory equality and diversity training to prevent discrimination and harassment in the workplace, as well as training on how to respect one another, will help reinforce the behaviour that employees should adhere to while at work.  

Diversity and inclusion measures don’t just stop there. It also includes educating employees to be more aware of unconscious bias, often based on appearance, cultural, social behaviour or experience, to help change viewpoints and build an inclusive culture.  

In addition, training should include implementing inclusive family policies such as adoption, maternity and parental leave, making it easier for LGBT workers to recognise their inclusion. Business leaders must also support the use of gender-neutral pronouns in the workplace and how its use can be effective in making LGBT employees feel more comfortable in the workplace. 

Take a look at our full range of Diversity and Inclusion online training courses and improve diversity and inclusion awareness among your employees and managers.     

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