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Supporting lesbian, gay and bisexual employees

Author: Shelagh Prosser

Summary

  • Sexual orientation is a term used to describe an individual's sexual identity, sexual attraction and sexual behaviour. A person's sexual orientation may be to persons of the same sex, persons of the opposite sex or persons of either sex. Although this is the definition in the Equality Act 2010, the terminology used by individuals to describe their sexual orientation is evolving. (See What does sexual orientation mean?)
  • An open and inclusive workplace is where all employees, whatever their sexual orientation, feel respected and valued and that they belong. (See What is an inclusive workplace?)
  • Creating an inclusive workplace for lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) employees is likely to impact positively on morale, motivation and performance. (See The importance of creating an inclusive workplace)
  • Fear of harassment and discrimination can prevent LGB employees from believing that they are safe to be their authentic self at work. (See Barriers to creating an inclusive workplace)
  • Clear and robust policies and procedures are essential in creating an inclusive workplace for all employees, whatever their sexual orientation. (See Policies and procedures)
  • Employers can demonstrate support for LGB employees by engaging in external events designed to celebrate and raise awareness about LGB issues. (See Raising awareness)
  • Where senior LGB staff are willing to be visible role models and leaders act as LGB allies, this can help other LGB employees to feel that they belong and can thrive in the organisation. (See Raising the profile of lesbian, gay and bisexual employees)
  • Employers should ensure that all employees are aware of how discrimination, bullying and harassment because of sexual orientation can occur in the workplace and what to do if they experience or observe such behaviour.(See Training)
  • Employers that wish to attract applicants from as wide a talent pool as possible should ensure that their recruitment practices and procedures do not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. (See The recruitment process)
  • All employees, regardless of their sexual orientation, should have the opportunity to access training and development to enhance their knowledge and skills. (See Career development)
  • Employers should deal with complaints of bullying and harassment due to sexual orientation promptly, firmly and in a consistent manner. They should ensure that procedures for handling complaints are understood by all employees and that line managers are confident in applying these. Informal support mechanisms should also be made available. (See Bullying and harassment)
  • LGB employee networks can be a source of peer support, provide a forum for raising workplace issues and a means whereby employers can engage directly with LGB employees to seek their views. (See Employee networks)
  • Monitoring employment practices on the basis of sexual orientation can help employers identify under-representation and barriers to inclusion, and target action to create a more inclusive workplace for LGB employees. (See Monitoring)
  • Employers should ensure that line managers feel confident in handling conflicts that may arise between religion and sexual orientation. (See Tensions between sexual orientation and religion)