Stonewall Scotland reveals coming out at work still a problem

Stonewall Scotland reveals coming out at work still a problem

New research from Stonewall Scotland, one of Scotland’s largest organisations for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality, reveals troubling reports of negative conduct and discrimination in Scotland’s workplaces.

The report, based on YouGov research of 799 LGBT employees across Scotland, found that an astonishing 36% of LGBT people at work have hidden their identity because they were afraid of discrimination; a figure that rises to over half of transgender people (58%).

Workplace bullying continues to be a serious problem for LGBT people. One in six (16%) have been the target of negative comments or conduct from work colleagues in the last year because they are LGBT.

Transgender staff tend to experience higher levels of negative comments or conduct, with two in five experiencing it from colleagues (39%). 6% have been physically attacked by customers or colleagues in the last year because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Stonewall Scotland is calling for employers to develop zero-tolerance policies on homophobic, biphobic and transphobic discrimination and harassment, alongside communicating clear routes to report anti-LGBT bullying.

The charity is also calling for employers to take an active role in supporting transgender staff by running awareness sessions for all employees on transgender inclusion and developing a transitioning at work policy.

“It’s been proven that diversity among staff leads to a more productive, positive and creative workplace environment.”

Colin Macfarlane, Director, Stonewall Scotland said : “Over the last few years employers across Scotland have shown real commitment to their LGBT staff by taking action to become more LGBT inclusive workplaces.  However, our Work Report shows not every LGBT person feels supported by their employer. The fact that two in five trans staff have faced negative comments or conduct from customers or clients shows just how much still needs to change.

“Organisations who can ‘get it right’ reap the benefits of happy staff who will perform better. It’s been proven that diversity among staff leads to a more productive, positive and creative workplace environment.  We need more organisations and businesses to ‘come out’ for LGBT equality and show their commitment to their LGBT staff and colleagues.

“We’re proud to work with employers all across Scotland through our Diversity Champions programme to build a world where all lesbian, gay, bi and trans staff feel equal at work.”

One respondent to the report, Penelope – 41, said : “As a nurse, it saddens me that I would never ‘out’ myself to patients and their families. Daily I am quizzed about my life in passing conversation; “Do you have children, are you married”. I avoid such questions as best as possible and/or lie about my answers. I will not ‘out myself’ daily to these strangers, but yet it is hard to put a lot of effort into my answers to not give away the fact that I live with another woman and that she gave birth to our children, and not me, as is assumed daily. This is hard and upsetting. I doubt this will ever change. I do not wish my sexuality to become a topic of conversation with patients and their families, nor do I wish it to affect the way they look at me and consider the care I provide.”

Talking about his experience of homophobia in the workplace, Jacob – 22, said : “I work in a shop that sells beauty products and I have been yelled at from outside the store, being called “gay” or “faggot”. One guy walked past the store and laughed and called me gay. Nothing physical but it did make me feel unsafe.”

How inclusive is your workplace? Do you feel you can be your true self at work?

Some other headlines from the report :

  • Nearly one in five trans employees (18%) aren’t open with anyone at work about their gender identity.
  • One in five trans people (20%) don’t feel able to wear work attire representing their gender expression.
  • Only half of LGBT staff (54%) agree that there are equalities policies in place to protect trans people at work.
  • 13% of trans people say they did not get a promotion at work in the past year because they are LGBT. This compares to 6% of LGB people who aren’t trans. LGBT disabled people are also more likely to have not got a promotion (11%).

About The Author

Thomas Anderson

Founder and MD of Inclusive Networks. Thomas was Chair of the award winning LGBT network for The Co-operative Group, ‘Respect’ (2011-14). Thomas named the network and designed and managed all of the branding, communications and engagement until he stepped down from the role of Chair in March 2014. He also created the branding, name, was Editor of the quarterly magazine and developed the launch of the UK’s first Inter-Retail LGBT network ‘CheckOUT’. He contributed to the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index 5 Year review. In recognition of his work in the diversity field he was shortlisted for ‘Diversity Champion of the Year’ at the 2013 European Diversity Awards, shortlisted for ‘Role Model of the Year’ at the 2012 Lesbian & Gay Foundation Homo Heroes Awards and shortlisted for the ‘Positive Action’ award at the 2013 Asian Fire Service Association Fair & Diverse Awards. He also won the 2012 ‘Pride of The Co-operative’ award. He was a judge for Scotland's biggest diversity awards, The Icon Awards in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

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