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Sexual orientation

Author: Shelagh Prosser


  • Sexual orientation means sexual orientation towards persons of the same sex, persons of the opposite sex or persons of either sex. (See What does sexual orientation mean?)
  • An inclusive workplace is one where all employees, whatever their sexual orientation, feel that the organisation respects and values them. (See What is an inclusive workplace?)
  • Creating an inclusive workplace for lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) employees is likely to benefit the bottom line. (See The importance of creating an inclusive workplace)
  • Fear of unfair treatment and a lack of understanding about sexual orientation are two of the main barriers to creating an inclusive workplace for LGB employees. (See Barriers to creating an inclusive workplace)
  • Having inclusive policies and practices is the first step towards creating an inclusive workplace for employees, whatever their sexual orientation. (See Policies that have an impact on sexual orientation)
  • Employers could take part in events outside the workplace aimed at raising awareness about LGB issues. (See Raising awareness externally)
  • Where LGB employees are visible, this is likely to help other LGB employees to feel that they belong in the organisation and to encourage them to advance in their career. (See Raising the profile of lesbian, gay and bisexual employees)
  • Employers should train all employees on sexual orientation, to help to address misunderstandings, avoid unfair treatment and bullying and harassment, and inform employees of their rights and where to seek help if they feel that they have been discriminated against because of sexual orientation. (See Training)
  • Employers can take action to encourage all suitable individuals, whatever their sexual orientation, to apply for vacant posts, giving the organisation a wider candidate base from which to select employees. (See The recruitment process)
  • Employers should help LGB employees to progress in their career, by training line managers on conscious and unconscious bias and encouraging LGB employees to participate in training and development opportunities. (See Career development)
  • Employers should deal with complaints of bullying and harassment promptly, transparently and firmly. Employees should know what procedure they need to follow should they wish to make a complaint about bullying and harassment, including to whom they can talk informally. (See Bullying and harassment)
  • Employers should support LGB employee networks. Networks can have different purposes, including providing a forum for LGB employees to support one another, acting as a consultation forum for the employer, and raising awareness about LGB issues throughout the organisation. (See Employee networks)
  • Monitoring on the basis of sexual orientation can help employers to determine what action to take to create a more inclusive workplace for LGB employees. (See Monitoring)
  • Employers should promote understanding between employees who observe a religion and LGB employees, and train line managers on dealing with conflicts between religion and sexual orientation. (See Tensions between sexual orientation and religion)