Understanding LGBTQ+ challenges in the workplace

Understanding LGBTQ+ challenges in the workplace

Happy Pride Month! In recent years, workplaces have made significant strides in becoming more inclusive and supportive of LGBTQ+ individuals.

Despite this, there are still unique challenges that some LGBTQ+ employees face – which can affect not only their professional circumstances but their well-being too!

Stonewall has found that almost one in five LGBTQ+ employees, that’s 18%, have been the target of negative comments at work.

More than a third of LGBTQ+ staff have hidden the fact that they’re part of this community, in fear of discrimination.

One in eight trans people, which is 12%, have been physically attacked by customers of colleagues in the last year because they’re trans.

18% of LGBTQ+ people who were looking for work said they were discriminated against because of their identity while trying to get a job.

Although progress has been made, these shocking statistics show that there is still a long way to go.

If you want to create an inclusive and supportive working environment, understanding these challenges is crucial.

What is discrimination?

Discrimination doesn’t always necessarily mean shouting or abuse, it can manifest in a number of forms, including:
1. Microaggressions: Subtle, often unintentional, comments or actions that can be harmful or offensive.
2. Exclusion: Being left out of important meetings, social events, or decision-making processes.
3. Harassment: Overtly hostile behaviour, such as verbal abuse or physical intimidation.

The impact of discrimination

Discrimination and bias can have severe consequences for LGBTQ+ employees, affecting both their mental health and career progression. Some of the key impacts include:

1. Mental health issues
Experiencing discrimination or feeling unsupported at work can lead to anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues.

The constant need to hide one’s identity or worry about potential backlash can be incredibly stressful and tiring.

2. Job satisfaction and engagement
LGBTQ+ employees who do not feel accepted or valued are less likely to be satisfied with their jobs and engaged in their work.

This can lead to decreased productivity and an increased chance of them leaving the business, which can be costly for employers.

3. Career advancement
Discrimination can halt career advancement for LGBTQ+ individuals. It can lead to them being overlooked for opportunities and can limit professional growth.

Creating an inclusive workplace
To address these challenges, organisations must work towards creating an inclusive and supportive environment for LGBTQ+ employees. Here’s how:

1. Implement inclusive policies
Develop policies that ensure discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity are prohibited – and ensure that they are enforced.

These policies MUST be communicated with all employees, with instructions on how to report any incidents. There should also be consequential outcomes for anyone proven to have discriminated.

2. Provide training and education
Training and educational sessions, surrounding issues that LGBTQ+ individuals face, are great ways to ensure your employees foster a supportive and inclusive working environment.

Training can cover the microaggressions mentioned above, inclusive language and addressing challenges that the LGBTQ+ community faces.

3. Provide equal opportunities
It goes without saying that ensuring LGBTQ+ employees have equal access to career development opportunities and promotions.

As a manager, implementing fair and unbiased performance reviews is crucial to preventing discrimination.

Inclusive workplaces are more innovative, productive, and successful. Understanding the difficulties and challenges that the LGBTQ+ community face in the workplace is the first step to making positive change.

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