The leading program behind the workplace inclusion of the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and trans-gender (LGBT) community announced the annual winners of its coveted awards last week, and in doing so provided a valuable platform for organisations to highlight the quality of their LGBT workplace diversity practices.
While companies may anecdotally assure anyone who asks that they are inclusive employers, the time to walk the talk has come. According to the Diversity Council of Australia (DCA), the following key points of research collated by Stonewall, the UK lesbian, gay and bi-sexual charity, shows why organisations should be public in their support for the LGBT communities:
Almost three quarters of gay, and more than 2 in 5 straight consumers are less likely to buy products from companies perceived to hold negative views of lesbians and gay men.
In Australia gay and lesbian households control an estimated annual disposable income of $10 billion.
Recent Australian research has demonstrated that almost 2 in 5 of lesbian and gay staff facing discrimination will change careers if the discrimination continues. Being positive towards gay recruits is a litmus test for inclusive and effective recruitment generally.
More than one third of lesbian and gay staff conceal their sexual orientation from their employers and co-workers. This creates stress and tension for many staff themselves. But it also has consequences for employers too. All people perform better when they can be themselves, and this truth applies in particular to LGBT staff.
Research from the US has found that employees who felt able to be ‘out’ as gay in safe environments earn 50% more than their ‘closeted peers’. Conversely, more than half of gay employees facing discrimination report direct negative work impact.
According to research undertaken by the Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, 53% of participants had been the subject of harassment or discrimination in their current employment.
The awards night held in Sydney last week was hosted by Pride In Diversity, a non-profit program run by the AIDS Council of NSW. PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) received the top gong for employer of the year, and its resource group, Glee@PwC, was named LGBT employee network group of the year.
PwC won the top spot for having held over 20 LGBT events in the past year and recording the participation of more than 500 employees in its ‘Sticks and Stones’ diversity training program. Additionally, its support network has been so successful that it has been franchised across the business internationally.
Many organisations are fearful and reluctant to consider initiatives that would publicly support their lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) employees, Dawn Hough from Pride in Diversity told the Sydney Morning Herald. According to Hough, the reluctance to openly support LGBT is often due to the conservative thought leaders in an organisation. “We see young people joining workplaces, proud to be who they are, but we still have many conservative people, or those with strong religious and cultural beliefs, who find this hard to accept,” Hough said.
Hough added that her research has indicated that younger LGBT workers are comfortable being “out and proud” in the workplace, but older generations are not and as a result LGBT workers choose to hide a very large part of who they are for fear of repercussions. Those repercussions include concerns they won’t get promoted, or that they’ll be socially excluded, if people at work were to find out their sexual identity.
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