More than four in 10 LGBT+ employees have experienced workplace conflict. By Daphne Doody-Green, Head of CIPD Northern England.
While progress has been made, many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT+) people still worry that revealing their sexuality at work will have negative consequences for them.
Take for example the teenage ambulance worker who hit the headlines recently after winning £20k at an employment tribunal which found his boss guilty of subjecting him to homophobic abuse. Sadly this is just one – and all too common – example of the bullying and harassment that LGBT workers can suffer at the hands of their co-workers.
In fact, CIPD research found that more than four in ten LGB+ workers (40%) and 55% of trans workers have experienced such workplace conflict, compared with 29% of heterosexual, cisgender employees.
Employers must do more to support LGBT+ employees and create inclusive workplace cultures that have zero tolerance of bullying and harassment.
How can businesses create better working lives for LGBT+ people?
Organisations – of all sizes – can start by improving how they handle conflict and harassment, particularly given the increasing use of online video and messaging platforms, along with social media, which have made it much easier to spread abuse instantly and far and wide.
People managers play a vital role in managing and supporting staff with any workplace conflict. Therefore it is imperative that employers ensure their line managers are trained in how to have difficult conversations with employees and ultimately, how to handle such discriminatory or bullying behaviour.
As part of this training, people managers must understand the challenges faced by LGBT+ people. For instance, recognising that a lesbian will face very different challenges to a trans person at work will help managers – and an organisation – create inclusive practices that support each LGBT+ individual’s diverse needs, rather than assuming a ‘one-size fits all’ approach will do.
Having regular, open conversations with the wider team about inclusion will also help to encourage a more inclusive work culture, where everyone can feel confident to be themselves at work, and self-assured that any issues will be handled with sensitivity.
LGBT+ staff networks can also play an important role in enabling minority groups to come together, with allies, to better understand and support each other in the workplace.
The opportunities are endless for any business that wants to promote diversity. But change will not come overnight, and support for LGBT+ workers isn’t just needed during Pride month, it is needed all year round.
The CIPD ‘Inclusion at work: Perspectives on LGBT+ working lives’ research report offers more insight on what businesses can do to support and champion LGBT+ workers, and create an inclusive workplace culture where everybody – regardless of who they love – can thrive.