In a normal year, many of us would be spending this month attending parades and parties to celebrate Pride. But just because we cannot get together in person, it does not mean we should pass up the opportunity to think about what we are doing in our lives, and our work, to combat discrimination.
Two years ago we marked Pride month by publishing the results of the UK’s National LGBT Survey - the world’s largest survey of its kind. The survey asked about LGBT people’s experiences in all parts of their life - including healthcare, education, safety, and the workplace. 108,000 people responded to us with accounts of how discrimination impacts their daily lives. Two thirds said they were afraid to hold hands with their partner in public.
Of the respondents who were employed in the 12 months preceding the survey 23% said they had experienced a negative or mixed reaction from others in the workplace due to being, or perceived as, LGBT.
19% had not been open with any of their colleagues at the same or a lower level, 30% had not been open with senior colleagues, and 57% had not been open with any customers or clients.
Perhaps most shockingly, when asked about the most serious workplace incident in the 12 months preceding the survey, 77% of people said it had not been reported. The main reason was that they had thought it would not be worth it, or that nothing would happen or change.
LGBT people should be able to be themselves in the workplace, so that they can feel safe, do their best work and achieve their full potential. Thankfully, things are changing. Many British businesses, charities and voluntary organisations are leading the way on LGBT equality at work.
At the end of 2019, we held a series of workplace roundtables across the UK to understand the experiences of LGBT employees in different sectors. We brought together participants from over 150 businesses to share experiences and best practice in making workplaces genuinely LGBT-inclusive.
We heard from leaders from every part of the job market - retail, manufacturing, health, education, construction, legal, arts, media, tech companies, charities, finance, and local government.
We are now considering what steps could be taken to tackle discrimination, and help support workplaces in becoming fully LGBT-inclusive.
And we know it’s not just for those outside of government. The civil service will continue to role model best practice. 2020 is the Civil Service Year of Inclusion - meaning to have a sense of belonging, being able to bring your authentic self to work, and having a voice in your organisation.
This year 12 civil service departments and organisations ranked in the Stonewall Top 100 employers, with two in the top 10.
We make sure that there is representation at every level:
- A cross-departmental Civil Service LGBT+ network and multiple departmental LGBT+ networks
- A cross-departmental network for trans and intersex employees called a:gender
- Senior LGB&TI Champions in every department
- A Permanent Secretary LGB&TI Champion - Jonathan Slater, who was the Stonewall Senior Champion 2018
We promote LGBT inclusion throughout the Civil Service in a number of ways including running events during LGBT History Month, marking significant awareness days in the LGBT calendar, and ensuring LGBT concerns and interests feed into wider strategies and policies. Throughout this month, the Civil Service LGBT+ Network is running a series of online events to ensure that civil servants are able to mark and celebrate Pride.
Equality isn’t just for one month a year. It is up to all of us to make our workplaces safe and welcoming for everyone.