Each year, UK charity Stonewall, releases its Workplace Equality Index. The process requires employers – from any sector, including government departments and charities – to pay a fee to participate and to submit a detailed assessment form, with supporting evidence.
For participating employers, a high ranking in Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index is an important public relations opportunity – demonstrating to existing employees and potential candidates that they are an employer who values diversity and equality.
The eagerness of employers to participate in an exercise such as this survey is very encouraging. It was only in 2003 that anti-discrimination legislation in the UK was expanded to prevent discrimination based on sexuality. For young LGBTQ people entering the workforce today, it’s difficult to imagine a time when being honest about your sexuality would damage your career or result in you losing your job.
Some of the statistic collected during the survey process also give us some positive insights:
- 87% of lesbian and gay respondents feel able to be themselves in the workplace.
- 92% of non-LGBT respondents say that they support LGBT equality.
Unsurprisingly, the position is less favourable for Trans or Bi people:
- 37% of trans respondents feel that they have visible trans role models in their workplace.
- 25% of bi men and bi women feel they have visible bi role models in their workplace.
Looking down the list of employers who have performed well, there are a lot of law firms, banks, accountants, universities, and government agencies. As you would expect, the employers who score highly are large organisations with the HR resources to complete the assessment process and coordinate the programs required to demonstrate a commitment to inclusion and diversity.
While it’s more difficult to get a sense of the LGBTQ employee experience in smaller employers, or those industries not participating in this survey, an exercise such as Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index sends a powerful signal to young LGBTQ job-seekers that there are a huge range of employers who will actively welcome them, and who will celebrate who they are.
It also reminds all of us not to accept anything less than equality. We all deserve a workplace free of discrimination, and there’s plenty of research out there that demonstrates the value of diversity. Perhaps it’s time to dust off your CV and go in search of an employer who values not only what you can do but also who you are.