Written by
Nick Goldberg

Published
20 Sep 2017

Are workplaces doing enough to tackle homophobia?

20 Sep 2017 • by Nick Goldberg

Sexism, ageism and racism are issues every company must tackle. But where on the list of issues does homophobia come? How much of an issue is it for employees and employers?

Our recent research looked into some of the biggest issues that employees feel are most apparent in the company they work for, and what they believe their leaders are doing to tackle this.

2017 has seen LGBT issues come to the forefront of public awareness due to the 50th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in the UK.

Throughout the year, there have been numerous broadcasts, exhibitions and history lessons about what it means to be LGBT in society today and how far tolerance and acceptance has come. 

For the majority of us, our work environments make a significant impact on our lives and wellbeing. In particular for members of the LGBT community feeling safe, secure and free to be themselves at work is incredibly important.

So, are workplaces doing enough to tackle homophobia? The results are reassuring. 

Steps to openness

Our research revealed just 2% of UK employees believe homophobia is the most apparent form of discrimination in their workplace, coming behind other issues such as racism, sexism and ageism.

While almost one in 10 employees (7%) believe homophobia is the issue their workplace is most committed to tackling. Moreover, just 4% of employers find sexual orientation the most challenging aspect of diversity and inclusion to deal with in the workplace.

The fact that only a small amount of people identified homophobia as the most apparent form of discrimination at work is great news, but that doesn’t mean employers can sit back and relax.

There are a few simple steps that you can take as part of a bigger strategy to create an environment where the same sense of openness people feel at Pride parades is something they can bring with them to the office every day.

Remember that words matter

It is vital the correct vocabulary is used, for example using the correct gender pronouns, ensuring staff members feel included and recognised in all communications.

Leaders set the tone for workplace dialogue that is representative of all staff members across their organisation. This sets a very strong tone that your organisation is one that is an accepting place where everyone can feel comfortable. 

 

The workplace must be a safe space

Many workplaces have dedicated LGBT groups for staff which include training, events and forums where staff can voice their opinions or concerns without feeling uncomfortable.  

This is just one example of the ways a company can demonstrate inclusivity. Managers will find that measures such as these pay dividends when it comes to workplace harmony and collaboration.

This will filter through to issues like disagreements or upset among staff, as problems can be resolved before they escalate is employees feel they have a more open avenue of communication with each other.