Earlier this year the British LGBT+ charity Stonewall released their UK Equality Index, a survey showcasing the UK’s top employers for LGBT+ individuals with staff feedback concerning LGBT+ well-being. Results were relativity positive but stigma towards sexuality obviously still exists so the results were far from perfect. To highlight a few:
• Only 57% of respondents said that they were comfortable disclosing their sexual orientation to all colleagues.
• Bisexual men are twice as likely to not be out with any colleagues and one and a half times more likely to not be out with any managers when compared to bisexual women.
• Lesbian, gay and bisexual respondents who are completely out in the workplace are five times less likely to be dissatisfied with their sense of achievement and three times less likely to be dissatisfied with their job security when compared to those who are not out with anyone in the workplace.
Like I mentioned the results weren’t all bad and the workplace environment for LGBT+ individuals has improved over the past 20 years, some companies even hold LGBT+ recruitment events. But this got us thinking; should recruiters actively seek out LGBT+ individuals? Is a recruitment evening PR pandering or are companies genuinely interested in hiring LGBT+ employees. If it’s the latter, why? I’m asking because I’m sceptical, not a homophobe. At this point I think it’s useful to mention that I am gay so forgive me if I appear critical but like we’ve all seen with greenwashing we must question the legitimacy of a company’s actions.
With more and more companies vowing to hire people from the LGBT+ community, some companies are facing a new challenge: more sexual diversity in the workplace can create concentrated pockets of discrimination. Hiring LGBT+ folk is not enough, companies need to train all their staff on racial and sexual diversity to spread knowledge and acceptance. It might seem excessive but merely hiring more diversity is not going to miraculously transform a workforce into a better team. Luckily companies like Goldman Sachs and Simmons & Simmons are providing training but a lot aren’t. In fact, only 51% of the LGB workforce think diversity training equips staff well with knowledge on sexual orientation issues. Without follow-up training actively seeking LGBT+ members for employments is positive discrimination. It’s filling a diversity quota without any interest in the well-being of the individual. If you consider the same concept (recruitment evenings in particular) for straight ethnic women it feels dated even though they also face adversity in the recruitment process.
Of course even when a company provides the training they cannot guarantee complete well-being as there are many uncontrollable factors such as customers and clients but training is a step in the right direction. It’s expected of multinational corporations to support diversity so they can no longer just have a float at Pride to recruitment individuals. In fact, recruitment at a Pride event is cutting considering the word ‘recruitment’ and LGBT+ history. All I can hope is that companies legitimately want to hire LGBT+ individuals because it creates a better workforce and not to fill quotas.