Pride month – an update on LGBT+ rights at work

As you are most probably aware, with the sudden explosion of rainbows, June is Pride month, a joyful and fun time when the LGBT+ community celebrates with a series of events dedicated to celebrating LGBT+ identity and raising awareness of the social and political inequalities surrounding sexual orientation and gender identity that exist within our society.

While this year’s Pride month will undoubtedly be different given COVID-19 and social distancing restrictions across the UK, it still marks an opportunity to reflect on the inequalities LGBT+ people face across society − including within the workplace.

Despite headway made over recent years, unfortunately, many LGBT+ people are still unable to be themselves at work. So even in the 21st century, there are still battles to be fought, especially when it comes to discrimination in the workplace.

Since 2010 (The Equality Act), it has been against the law to discriminate against a job candidate, employee or trainee based on their sexual orientation and there doesn’t need to be an employment relationship in place for discrimination to occur.

So, for example, an employer refusing to promote someone based purely on the fact that they’re gay or transgender is illegal, and the employer can be taken to court.

The Equality Act distinguishes the different forms of discrimination that can take place. All are illegal in the workplace and an employer has a duty to ensure no one is discriminated against based on their sexual orientation or gender.

Every organisation should have a zero-tolerance to discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender reassignment. Ensuring an inclusive workplace culture and the creation of a safe space for all.

Advice for employers

An employer has a duty of care to staff and employees. Ultimately it is within the interests of any organisation to ensure they both understand and respond positively to LGBT+ issues to attract and retain talented individuals. 

Some easy to follow tips are below:

  • Have clear policies and procedures in place to ensure they are gender-neutral and inclusive. Clear and enforced policies can reduce homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying
  • Familiarise yourself with them and be confident and proactive in enforcing them. Remember discrimination can be from the stage of recruitment so make sure your recruitment procedure doesn’t allow for any discrimination.
  • Do not use and as far as is possible, do not allow staff to use derogatory language or words about members of the LGBT+ community. This is often defined as or justified as ‘banter’ but it is not just banter and can be hurtful and can amount to discrimination.
  • Avoid stereotypes.
  • Educate, inform and support line managers to improve their understanding of LGBT+ issues.
  • Approach all discrimination complaints seriously whether they are formal or informal.
  • If you witness and suspect discrimination, don’t wait for a complaint or grievance to be raised, deal with it and resolve it before it escalates.
  • Champion LGBT+ inclusion from the top of the organisation, by promoting and supporting LGBT+ progression and developing allies at the leadership level.

How can we help?  Ensure that staff receive Equality and Diversity training and that this is updated regularly. We offer standalone and tailor-made courses.

For a free no strings, confidential initial half hour conversation on how we can help your business and/or to discuss any specific HR issues you need assistance with please get in touch by calling us on 01792 296 178, emailing us at shakira@personology.co.uk or click here to book a call back.

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