As we commemorate LGBTQ+ History Month, it’s a perfect time to pause and reflect on the journey toward equality and inclusion in the UK workplace. While significant strides have been made, there’s still much ground to cover.
Our path toward embracing diversity has been marked by both successes and ongoing challenges, shaping the way we navigate and advocate for inclusivity in professional environments. My experience of working in inclusive and accepting businesses is not the reality for a lot of LGBTQ+ folk and I wanted to share The Scale Factory’s views on diversity and some data to help contextualise the importance of creating a safe working environment.
Before the Equality Act of 2010, discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals was distressingly prevalent in workplaces across the nation. Historical figures like Alan Turing, whose genius in computer science was overshadowed by persecution, and Roberta Cowell, a pioneering transgender woman who defied societal norms, faced unimaginable challenges due to their sexual orientation and gender identity. Their stories are stark reminders of the injustices in working environments.
Insights highlighted from the National LGBT Survey provide a snapshot of the experiences of the LGBTQ+ community in the workplace today. While the survey data dates back to 2018, it remains a valuable benchmark for measuring progress and identifying persistent challenges. Shockingly, despite legislative advancements, discrimination continues to rear its ugly head. Key findings from the survey reveal alarming realities:
- 1 in 8 trans employees reported being attacked by a colleague or customer at work.
- 80% of respondents had been employed in the past 12 months, with trans individuals less likely to have a paid job.
- 11% had their LGBTQ+ status disclosed without permission.
- 11% experienced inappropriate comments or conduct, while 9% received verbal harassment or insults.
- 57% of the most serious reported incidents were perpetrated by colleagues at the same or lower level, with 21% by a line manager.
These highlights are a summary of the report, but one data point stood out for me. The role of a manager is to lead, remove blockers and support their team to excel in their roles, to see as late as 2018 that 21% of serious reported incidents involved a line manager was shocking and contradicts the main function of an effective manager.
At The Scale Factory, we understand the importance of fostering an environment where everyone feels valued and respected, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The statistics from the National LGBT Survey underscore the critical need for such inclusive workplaces, especially considering that a significant portion of respondents hadn’t felt comfortable disclosing their identity to colleagues.
Looking ahead, we must anticipate the emerging trends and challenges that await us. Surveys like the recent study conducted by GWork provide valuable insights into the growing presence of LGBTQ+ individuals in the workforce.
GWork’s survey of 2,000 Gen-Z international students in January 2024 revealed significant statistics: over 36% identify as LGBTQ+ and a striking 80% of these individuals consider the visibility of LGBTQ+ role models influential in their job choices, a key insight into our future workforce.
However, amidst these promising developments, alarming realities persist. Half of the respondents reported experiencing or witnessing discrimination, a figure that is even higher among marginalised ethnicities. A troubling 8 out of 10 respondents expressed fears that their gender identity or sexual orientation could impede their progress to senior leadership positions.
Despite these challenges, our commitment to diversity remains unwavering. We believe in the power of collaboration, empathy, and continuous improvement. By championing openness, trust, and mutual respect, we strive to create an environment where every voice is heard and valued.
As we navigate LGBTQ+ History Month and beyond, let us reaffirm our dedication to diversity, equality, and inclusion in the workplace. Together, we can build a future where everyone has the opportunity to thrive, irrespective of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Interested in joining our team? We’re friendly and inclusive, so if you have the skills and experience, I hope you would consider applying regardless of your age, gender, sexuality, race or physical ability. The Scale Factory is hiring.
This blog is written exclusively by The Scale Factory team. We do not accept external contributions.