February is LGBT History Month. Festivals, initiatives and events promote equality and celebrate the achievements of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people. In the 50 years since the Stonewall riots, several key LGBT+ rights have been fought for and won. LBGT+ people are protected by anti-discrimination laws and can, for example, marry, adopt and serve in the military.
Discrimination and bullying against LGBT+ people still happens
Despite these successes, LGBT+ campaigners recognise we’re still a long way from a truly equal and inclusive society. This is particularly true in the workplace. Fear of discrimination and bullying still leads to 35% of employees hiding their identity, according to Stonewall research. Furthermore, almost one in five LGBT+ employees surveyed had experienced bullying or negative comments from colleagues in the last year.
Other findings from a 2018 government report are just as disheartening:
- Of the respondents, 11% said someone at work had disclosed their sexuality to others without their permission.
- Most respondents said they didn’t bother to report incidents because they felt nothing would be done about it.
- Verbal harassment, insults or other hurtful comments were reported by 9% of those surveyed.
- When describing their most serious incident in the workplace, 21% said it came from a line-manager.
What’s the legal definition of anti-LGBT+ discrimination?
Under the Equality Act in 2010, it’s against the law to discriminate against someone because of their sexual orientation. There are four types of actions that may be considered discriminatory:
- Direct discrimination: where someone is treated unfavourably compared to someone else of a different sexual orientation.
- Indirect discrimination: where an organisation’s policies put LGBT+ people at a disadvantage. For example, benefits that are only available to same-sex couples might be deemed discriminatory.
- Harassment: where actions in the workplace lead to someone feeling put down or humiliated.
- Victimisation: where you’re treated unfairly because of a claim of discrimination that you’ve made in the past. Or where you’ve supported someone else in their anti-discrimination case.
It’s never OK to bully, harass or discriminate against someone in the workplace. Companies that adopt a zero-tolerance approach to all discrimination understand they need to do more than just prevent serious harassment. Sometimes comments are brushed aside as off-hand remarks, but their effects can be debilitating to someone who already feels vulnerable. Creating a culture where colleagues feel safe to be themselves has benefits that go way beyond avoiding a lawsuit. By supporting and promoting your inclusion and diversity strategies, VERCIDA can help you to recruit talented and inclusive candidates.