Too many LGBTQ+ people still have to hide who they are in the workplace. Our new campaign, Bring Yourself To Work, shows how LGBTQ+ people thrive when they’re free to be themselves.
Our workplace can have a huge impact on our life. Most of us rely on work for our financial livelihood, of course, but for many it means so much more. It’s where many of us spend most of our waking days. It’s where we build networks and friendships. And our career choices often form a very fundamental part of our sense of self.
There’s an old adage that your boss has a bigger impact on your health than your doctor. If you’re LGBTQ+, there’s a good chance you’ll see the truth behind this. Most of us have, at one point or another, endured the emotional struggle of having to hide who we are at work, or the turmoil of not knowing if we can access the same benefits and opportunities as our coworkers.
That’s why workplace inclusion matters. It's more than just a tick-box exercise or a negotiation of HR policy – workplace inclusion is about providing LGBTQ+ people with the same opportunities to thrive as anyone else. It’s about allowing them to unlock their full potential and to live their lives freely and openly.
But, unfortunately, this is far from the reality for too many LGBTQ+ people. Confronted with exclusionary policies, language, and attitudes, more than a third of LGBT staff hide who they are at work in fear of discrimination. Many feel isolated and are forced to withdraw from their colleagues because they’re scared of being ‘found out’ for who they really are.
Because of subtle anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment in some cases, and outright bigotry in others, many LGBTQ+ individuals find themselves caught in a work environment that is not only unsupportive, but also directly harmful. Our research shows that almost one in five LGBT staff (18%) have been the target of negative comments or conduct from work colleagues because they're LGBT. Moreover, one in eight trans people (12%) have been physically attacked by customers or colleagues in the last year because of being trans, and one in eight LGB people wouldn’t feel confident reporting homophobic or biphobic bullying to their employer.
Employers have long understood the benefits of true inclusion, rather than superficial representation, when it comes to morale, retention, and creativity. That’s why, for 18 years, workplaces across the UK have entered our Workplace Equality Index, and each year we report on the Top 100 most inclusive employers. This year's Top 100 list launched today.
LGBTQ+ inclusion makes the workplace safer and happier for everyone. Accepting workspaces allow a more different set of opinions to emerge, and harbour more innovative, caring, and thoughtful environments for all. In this way, the entire organisation can grow and innovate, and carry out more effective work.
And, of course, individual employees benefit. Inclusive work environments mean LGBTQ+ employees can talk openly about their lives and experiences without fear. They attract diverse employees to build a more understanding culture, ensuring everyone has the chance to shine. And inclusive HR policies give peace of mind to all employees, who know they can enjoy the same benefits as their colleagues.
That’s why this year, we’re putting employees centre-stage and asking them what it means to bring their whole self to work.
Speaking to Stonewall about their workplace, Bron (they/them) said, “I’m now more open with my identity at work than I am in everyday life – it might sound weird, but I do find that it’s more of a safe space. There's so much procedure in place at work where I know that I'm going to be supported. Being a part of this network has made me a lot more confident in myself. And while there are still spaces where I’m not 100% out, I feel I’m a lot more myself on a day-to-day basis.”