Pride in the Workplace

20 May 2024

Why we still need pride month…

It is estimated that around 4% of the Irish population and 1.6m people in the UK identify as LGBTQ+. However, it is important to note that in reality that these figures are likely to be higher.

LGBTQ+ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex, queer or questioning. Although we have used this term, it is understood this doesn’t cover all the ways people define their gender or sexuality.

The LGBTQ+ community faces a multitude of impacts in their daily lives due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. Discrimination and prejudice continue to be persistent challenges, leading to social, economic, and emotional consequences. LGBTQ+ individuals may experience higher rates of harassment, bullying, and violence, both in public spaces and within their own communities.

Mental Health within the LGBTQ+ Community

Depression, self-harm, alcohol and drug use, suicidal thoughts and other mental health problems can affect anyone. However, they are more common among the LGBTQ+ community.

Access to mental health support and increased awareness is crucial, LGBTQ+ youth are 4x more likey to consider suicide, to make a plan for suicide and attempt suicide compared to their peers.

Experiences such as discrimination, homophobia, transphobia, social isolation, rejection and coming out can all contribute to poorer wellbeing and widen gaps in equality.

A study found that over the last year:

  • Half of LGBTQ+ people experienced depression with 3 in 5 experiencing anxiety.
  • 1 in 8 LGBTQ+ people aged 18-24 had attempted to end their life, increasing to almost half for trans people.
  • Only half of lesbian, gay and bi people (46 per cent) and trans people (47 per cent) feel able to be open about their sexual orientation or gender identity to everyone in their family.
  • Three in ten bi men (30 per cent) and almost one in ten bi women (8 per cent), cannot be open about their sexual orientation with any of their friends, compared to two per cent of gay men and one per cent of lesbians.
  • 11% of LGBTQ+ people have faced domestic abuse from a partner in the last year.
  • Almost one in five LGBT people (18 per cent) have experienced homelessness at some point in their lives.
  • Half of black, Asian and minority ethnic LGBTQ+ people have experienced discrimination or poor treatment from others in their local LGBTQ+ community because of their ethnicity.

LGBTQ+ people often face legal inequalities, limited access to healthcare, and healthcare discrimination.

  • 1 in 8 LGBTQ+ people have experienced unequal treatment from healthcare staff because they are LGBTQ+
  • 23% of LGBTQ+ people have witnessed discriminatory or negative remarks against LGBTQ+ people by healthcare staff.
  • One in seven LGBTQ+ people (14%) have avoided treatment for fear of discrimination because they’re LGBTQ+
  • 70% of trans people report being impacted by transphobia when accessing general health services.
  • Nearly half of trans people (45%) said that their GP did not have a good understanding of their needs as a trans person, rising to over half of non-binary people (55%).
  • 90% of trans people reported experiencing delays when seeking transition-related healthcare, risking further impact on their mental and physical health.

Those in the LGBTQ+ community are often the target of hate crime and abuse against their gender identity or sexual orientation. Abuse can happen anywhere and is unpredictable making many afraid to speak up, voice their sexuality and seek help if needed.

No one should fall victim to attack for being exactly who they are and fear of discrimination or getting hurt holds many back from being their authentic selves, often causing trauma, depression, anxiety, dissociation, suicide ideation, and identity issues.

  • Two-thirds (64%) of LGBTQ+ people had experienced anti-LGBTQ+ violence or abuse. Of these, (92%) experienced verbal abuse, 3 in 10 had experienced physical violence and 2 in 10 experienced sexual violence.
  • Only 1 in 8 LGBTQ+ people surveyed had reported the most recent incident that they had experienced to the police. Less than half that did report their experiences to the police were satisfied with the response.
  • Only 1 in 3 respondents who wanted or needed support were able to access it.
  • One third (34%) of Black, Asian and minority ethnic LGBTQ+ people have experienced a hate crime or incident in the last year, compared to one in five white LGBTQ+ people.

These challenges can lead to higher levels of stress, anxiety, and mental health issues. However, despite these obstacles, the LGBTQ+ community remains resilient, united, and determined to create a more inclusive and accepting world where they can live their lives authentically and without fear of discrimination.

Everyone deserves to feel confident in their own skin, a sense of belonging and self acceptance to have better and more authentic relationships with themselves, friends and family and the wider community.

Taking a closer look in the workplace…

  • 18% of LGBTQ+ staff have been the target of negative comments in work because of their sexuality.
  • 1 in 8 trans people have been physically attacked by customers or colleagues,
  • 35% of LGBTQ+ staff have hidden or disguised they are LGBTQ+ at work for fear of discrimination.
  • Almost 1 in 5 trans people don’t feel able to wear work attire to represent their gender expression.
  • 15% of trans people are still not addressed with correct names/pronouns in work.
  • 1 in 10 LGBTQ+ employees feel they didn’t get a promotion because they’re LGBTQ+.
  • Only 61% of employees agree that their workplace has policies in place to protect LGBTQ+ employees at work.

Creating an inclusive work environment for LGBTQ+ individuals is not only a matter of equality, it brings a range of benefits for both employees and organisations as a whole.

We will explore why LGBTQ+ inclusion in the workplace is essential and how it contributes to a more productive, innovative, and harmonious work environment for all.

  1. Promoting Equal Opportunities – Inclusion ensures all employees regardless of sexual orientation or gender have equal opportunities for career advancement, promotions, and professional development. The discrimination, prejudice, and bias often faced by LGBTQ+ employees can even impact the progress of their careers. Embracing diversity and providing equal opportunities can create a safe and representative work environment-  increasing staff satisfaction and talent retention.
  2. Encourages Innovation and Creativity – Diverse perspectives and teams lead to greater innovation and creativity. When people from different backgrounds collaborate, more innovative solutions to problems are shared. Embracing full LGBTQ+ representation and inclusion, employers can unlock the full potential of their workforce to help drive growth and competitiveness in a dynamic and ever-evolving global marketplace.
  3. Enhance Employee Engagement and Productivity – When employees feel valued, respected and included, engagement and overall productivity increases. Inclusive workplaces that allow people to bring their authentic selves to work are more likely to have committed and motivated staff that can help build trust and encourage deeper interpersonal relationships contributing to a higher sense of purpose and belonging in the workplace. Prioritising LGBTQ+ inclusion helps create a positive organisational culture that benefits everyone involved.
  4. Attracting and Retaining top talent – In today’s competitive job market, the talent retention and shortage crisis continues. It is essential for employers to retain top talent to survive. Inclusive working policies and practices help retain valuable employees who may seek opportunities elsewhere and demonstrates a clear commitment to LGBTQ+ rights and quality, showcasing themselves as an inclusive employer for potential candidates.
  5. Customers – LGBTQ+ inclusion is not just a matter of corporate social responsibility, it is business imperative. Customers are increasingly demanding and expect organisations to uphold strong ethical values and are more likely to support and engage with those that demonstrate clear commitments to diversity and inclusion in the workplace, helping organisations to expand their customer base, enhance brand reputation and help the wider community with fair representation.

Fostering a diverse and inclusive work environment can enhance productivity, harness the full potential of workforces, attract and retain top talent, meet evolving customer expectations and increase overall job satisfaction for all employees. Embracing LGTBQ+ inclusion benefits individuals, organisations and the wider society, it is a vital step towards building a more equal and fair future where people are unafriad to be their authentic selves.

How can employers help?

  • Implement non-discrimination and zero tolerance policies to protect LGBTQ+ staff.
  • Offer inclusive benefits that offer mental health support that addresses LGBTQ+ specific concerns.
  • Ensure policies and practices including dress codes and toilets are inclusive and respectful for gender identity.
  • Celebrate LGBTQ+ events within the workplace to show support and solidarity, fostering an inclusive culture.
  • Use correct pronouns and gender neutral language throughout the organisation for further encouraging an inclusive workplace.

Spectrum.Life’s mental health solutions provide access to clinical and evidence based health and wellbeing resources. Our network of clinicians, psychologists, counsellors and psychotherapists can help deal with specific LGBTQ+ concerns such as dealing with abuse, how to report discrimination, trauma management gender dysphoria, gender identity or interpersonal/family difficulties.

Spectrum.Life can support a diverse workforce with their diverse needs. Employers need to be inclusive, representative and realistic about their employee needs to properly protect and maintain mental health & wellbeing in the workplace and make it a safer working environment for all.