Fear of social exclusion and discrimination force many employees to hide their sexual orientation in the workplace, often leading to anxiety and depression, according to Dawn Hough from Pride in Diversity,
Speaking in Sydney yesterday at the official launch of Australia’s first LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) inclusion program for the workplace, Hough said that this group of people is often excluded from diversity programs and can be unintentionally discriminated against.
She said that the fear of negative career impacts and “being found out” are very real and occur every day for many employees who are gay, and this fear can impact on both their personal wellbeing and productivity in the workplace.
“To say that there is no effect on the mental health and wellbeing of any employee that feels they need to live a double-life at work – or that there is no effect on the organisation itself in terms of team cohesion, productivity, risk mitigation, the ability to recruit the best talent and reputation – is at it best, naïve,” she said.
The program, Pride in Diversity, which was launched by former High Court judge Michael Kirby, aims to make workplaces more responsive to the needs of LGBT people.
“This is not about having a LGBT lobby group in your workplace, or about trying to force all LGBT employees to ‘come out’, it is simply about ensuring that your workplace does not inadvertently discriminate against LGBT employees and that it is inclusive of all employees, including those that are LGBT.”
Some of the program’s foundation members include IBM, KPMG, ING Australia, Goldman Sachs JBWere, the Department of Defence, the Australian Federal Police, Lend Lease and Telstra.