More than half of employees concerned colleagues would think they were gay if they spoke up on the subject, says survey
British employers are missing a significant opportunity to create a workplace culture that supports LGBT staff, with many negative stigmas continuing to prevail, according to a new survey.
In the LGBT Allies: The power of friends report, from Out Now global consulting, more than half of UK employees felt it was very easy to become an LGBT ‘ally’ – an individual who chooses to support colleagues who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT).
But 75 per cent of employees said they were not sure what actions allies could take to help LGBT employees, placing the UK behind most other nations in the survey, which polled more than 2,500 employees across 60 countries. And in a more worrying reflection of workplace attitudes towards LGBT people, 51 per cent of employees expressed concern that colleagues would assume they were LGBT if they spoke up as allies.
“The big question this survey raises, is ‘are we there yet’?,” said Ian Johnson, principal consultant of Out Now consulting. “Why should it be a negative thing for someone to assume you were LGBT? The report shows that we still have not reached true LGBT equality in the workplace yet: and allies are a crucial bridge between good LGBT policy and great LGBT environments.”
While half of UK companies said there was a formal structure to encourage LGBT allies in their workplace, 27 per cent said they had no such structure in place. “There is a huge untapped pool of willing LGBT allies who are motivated to become part of the LGBT revolution; but companies are not engaging this group, or listening to the feedback from LGBT people,” Johnson said.
“You have to target this at every level – you can’t expect results if this is just an exercise from management, it has to include management. Having management drive LGBT activation is necessary, but not sufficient. Middle-level management, and the people who interact with employees on a daily basis, need to be fully integrated into an LGBT strategy, so that it becomes a part of daily working culture.”
The report argues that uncertainty around how allies can assist their LGBT colleagues can be addressed by providing workplace tactics that focus on activating allies, and raising their visibility. A 2015 report from Out Now showed an inclusive LGBT workplace policy can result in an increased retention rate of 5-22 per cent in previously closeted workers, and average increases of 15-30 per cent in productivity potential.
“It’s not good enough for companies to place themselves into a workplace index around LGBT diversity, because that’s totally missing the point,” Johnson said. This is supposed to be about LGBT policy activation, and LGBT allies turn policy into activated results on the ground.”
Story via – http://www.cipd.co.uk/pm/peoplemanagement/b/weblog/archive/2016/10/03/employers-not-doing-enough-to-support-lgbt-staff.aspx