Taking pride in diversity

by 14 Mar 2012

Who is the most gay-friendly employer in the whole of Australia? It’s a question we’ll be able to answer shortly – and one that your organisation could still shape the answer to.

Pride in Diversity is Australia’s first and only not-for profit workplace program, designed to assist employers with the inclusion and support of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) employees.

The innovative program currently has 38 members who work with us – and each other – to promote best practice in the inclusion and support of LGBT employees.

Recruiting and retaining the very best gay talent

Why should your organisation become more gay-friendly? Aside from the obvious moral case, there are solid HR and business cases to be made here. In terms of recruiting and retaining the very best in LGBT talent, the stats speak for themselves:

  • research finds 2 in 5 LGBT employees have changed careers due to workplace discrimination
  • 50% of LGBT staff report that they’d feel more committed and loyal to employers who introduced LGBT diversity policies and programs.

This has a knock-on effect on productivity; staff give their peak performance when they feel relaxed and able to be themselves at work. But, in Australia, one third of LGBT staff hides their sexual orientation from some or all of their colleagues. It almost goes without saying: if staff can’t be 100% themselves, they’re unlikely to give 100% at work. Almost half of LGBT people experiencing workplace discrimination reported that they’d achieved less at work as a result.

The business case for diversity

There’s a strong business case for employers to be fully inclusive and supportive of LGBT staff:

  • The ‘pink dollar’ is a sizeable market, estimated to be worth more than $10 billion in Australia.
  • Brand loyalty is fierce amongst LGBT consumers: 74% of LGBT consumers (and 42% of straight consumers) report being less likely to buy products from organisations holding negative views of lesbian and gay people.
  • For public and voluntary sector organisations, being LGBT-friendly can have a positive knock-on effect on service delivery.

How we know this expertise works

A lot of this we know already because Pride in Diversity is based on an identical employer program run by Stonewall, the UK gay equality organisation, who shared their expertise to set up Pride in Diversity. Their Diversity Champions  sister program engages over 600 employers and they rank the Top 100 British gay-friendly employers yearly. The first year they did so – in 2005 – six employers requested anonymity rather than being listed in a ‘gay index’ – something which seems unthinkable now as hundreds of employers fiercely compete for a place at the top – reaping rewards in LGBT talent, customer loyalty and positive press publicity. Certainly something for us to aspire to in Australia.

Australia’s top employers for gay people

Last year, we invited employers to participate in Australia’s first ever Workplace Equality Index, which ranks the Top 10 best employers for LGBT staff based on a series of factors including policies and practices, employee network groups, organisational awareness, diversity training and community engagement. IBM took the gold trophy, with Australia Federal Police coming second and KPMG taking third place. View the full Top 10 here

Any employer can enter a submission into the 2012 Index – it’s completely free of charge and you don’t have to be a member of the program to enter (4 of last year’s Top 10 were non-members). We only publish the top 10 and will work with your organisation to help you identify ways of improving the following year. Deadline for submissions is 30 March and organisations can enter here We’ll be announcing results at an event on 17 May – the International Day Against Homophobia.

We’ll be sure to keep HC Online updated on who makes the coveted Top 10 this year – and share some of the best top tips from our members on how to recruit and retain, support and include the very best in LGBT talent.

Pride in Diversity will be announcing the Top 10 best employers for Australian LGBT staff on 17 May – the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia - at an awards luncheon where the honours will be presented by our Patron, the Hon. Michael Kirby. Tickets are open to the public and can be purchased here

About the author

Dawn Hough is the program director of Pride in Diversity http://www.prideindiversity.com.au/

Dawn has over 20 years of experience in organisational development, learning and HR including at a senior level at ING Australia.


  • by Samantha Webster 14/03/2012 4:18:07 PM

    Great work Dawn - a brave and well overdue initiative in this country! Especially when we are still contending with dangerous characters like Bob Katter and Fred Nile!!

  • by Michael Lamb 17/03/2012 5:38:13 AM

    Hello Dawn
    We would be happy to reprint your article in Echelon Magazine.
    Let me know if possible.

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