Coming out at work is still a problem in Britain’s workplaces

gay couple at office

New research from Stonewall, Britain’s leading charity for lesbian, gay, bi and trans equality, reveals troubling discrimination in Britain’s workplaces.

The report found that an astonishing 35 per cent of LGBT people at work have hidden their identity in the last year because they were afraid of discrimination; a figure that rises to 42 per cent for black, Asian and minority ethnic LGBT staff and 51 per cent for trans staff.

Workplace bullying continues to be a serious problem for LGBT employees. Almost one in five have been the target of negative comments or conduct from work colleagues in the last year because they are LGBT. Nearly one in five LGBT people who were looking for work reported that they were discriminated against because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

The situation is particularly bad for LGBT staff who are black, Asian or minority ethnic, trans or disabled, who were all found to be more likely to experience harassment and abuse in the workplace. Shockingly, one in ten black, Asian and minority ethnic LGBT employees have been physically attacked by customers or colleagues in the last year, compared to three per cent of white people.

Nearly one in four trans trans said they did not get a promotion they were up for at work because they were trans, compared to seven per cent of lesbian, gay and bi people who aren’t trans. Meanwhile, almost one in four LGBT disabled people say they were excluded by colleagues in the last year.

On the basis of this report, Stonewall 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 trans staff by running awareness sessions for all employees on trans inclusion and developing a transitioning at work policy.

Ruth Hunt, Chief Executive, Stonewall, said: ‘Over the past decade, leading employers across all sectors have shown a real commitment to inclusion and have taken positive steps towards LGBT equality. Unfortunately, the findings of our Work Report show there’s still lots to do. The fact that more than a third of LGBT staff have hidden their identity at work for fear of discrimination shows that change is still very much needed.

‘Creating a workplace that accepts everyone isn’t just the right thing to do, it makes good business sense. When staff feel comfortable and happy, they will perform much better than if they’re having to hide who they are. We need more organisations and businesses to be active and visible in demonstrating their support for their LGBT employees.

‘We’re proud to work with over 760 organisations through our Diversity Champions programme to help bring forward the day when all LGBT staff are accepted without exception in the workplace.’