With June being Pride Month, organisations are encouraged to explore ways that can reassure employees from the LGBT community that their voice will be heard.

Organisations are prohibited from discriminating against individuals on the basis of their gender or sexual orientation through the Equality Act 2010. Despite this, a study conducted by charity Stonewall last year found that more than a third of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) staff hide their sexual orientation in the workplace for fear of potential negativity and scrutiny. An unhappy workforce can cause significant issues for an organisation and a clear message from management about the importance of diversity can help LGBT employees to feel more secure at work. 

One of the key actions an organisation can take is the production of a new diversity and inclusion policy. The policy could outline what the organisation intends to do to challenge outdated stereotypes and promote equal opportunities for LGBT and other minority workers. This could be done through the setting of specific targets; for example, the BBC’s Diversity and Inclusion Strategy, released in 2016, aims to have 8 per cent of its workforce made up of individuals from the LGBT community by 2020 through changes to its recruitment and selection processes. By taking this action, an organisation can help to encourage its current employees not to feel segregated in their roles whilst also promoting itself to potential external candidates.

Organisations have a legal duty to protect the health and wellbeing of their employees and should therefore consider how any current workers from the community are being treated within their organisation. It may be that the organisation is operating under a working culture that is giving rise to bullying or harassment through office ‘banter’. As organisations can be vicariously liable for these situations in the workplace even if they were not aware of them, something that can lead to significant compensation claims, they must ensure they are maintaining a zero tolerance approach to this issue and fully investigate all accusations made. Management should also make clear that any acts of misconduct in this area will not be tolerated.

To further promote awareness, it is also advisable to hold regular and compulsory equality and diversity training for all employees and management, either as part of an induction process or at regularly organised intervals. All managers should be fully trained in responding to the needs and requirements of every member of staff. Organisations could also consider implementing open forums that can process any concerns or suggestions from employees. Through this, managers will be able to note the views of their employees, identify areas that need including and help to reassure them that their comments are being addressed at a senior level.

Further information