In recent years the business world has had a landscape shift towards embracing diversity, inclusivity, and acceptance of one another. Many have acknowledged the importance of this, and the fact that it is important to make up the business agenda. Embracing diversity is about getting to know and appreciate people of different religions, cultures, ethnic groups, socio-economic groups, identities, and genders. For example, the company Kaiser Permanente is one of the top examples of diversity as it has also employed a ‘speak up’ culture, empowering employees with the voice and platform to effect change.
This shift could be attributed to the fact that ESG has become an integral part of the business nowadays. Investors are becoming increasingly concerned about social issues, human rights, labour policies, diversity, and inclusion. ESG benefits the community by providing an opportunity to develop goals that range from positively impacting the environment to the social factors in the work place. These goals could include the organisation becoming more diverse for people to be able to feel comfortable and therefore, perform to the best of their abilities.
The path leading towards the workplace for equality for the LGBT community has been one marked by both milestones and challenges. Over recent years, a lot of significant progress has been made, through the inclusion of polices and setting up LGBTQ+ networks. Such as, creating a strong inclusive policy, recognising the complexity of identities and communication and engagement with employees. However, despite recent efforts, there is still a lot of work to be done to ensure everyone can be themselves and express themselves freely without any fear. This is often due to certain organisational cultures which do not promote queers, as well as organisations which may be dominated by figures who are very closed minded on the matter.
Looking at the numbers sorted by CITE, approximately two-thirds (67%) of people who identify as LGBTQ+ choose to not reveal their identify at school before the age of 18. “Ten years later, I still consider being bullied at school in the worst form of homophobic abuse I have ever been subjected to. The constant insults for being effeminate were unbearable at points, and not much action was taken by the teachers against the bullies. As a consequence, it forced me to remain in the closet until I turned 18.” (Malta, aged 25)
One-third (32%) choose not to reveal it in workplaces for the same reasons and fears. Two-thirds of the population studied had heard or seen negative comments or conduct towards a colleague which was perceived to be LGBTQ+, and one-fifth experienced it themselves. Therefore, despite the increased awareness the LGBTQ+ community has gained in recent years, acceptance and tolerance, there are still pressing issues in today’s world, as many people are still subjected to microaggressions and subtle discrimination in the workplace. “One in five (19%) of those who were employed in the 12 months preceding the survey stated that they personally felt discriminated against at work is the last year because they were LGBT.” Be it exclusion from social activities just because they identify the way they do. (EU survey link - https://fra.europa.eu/sites/default/files/eu-lgbt-survey-results-at-a-glance_en.pdf ).
Any person who experiences a hostile or unsupportive work environment, left with a negative impact on their mental health, which in turn leaves an impact on their work rate and efficiency. The toll on their mental health increases their anxiety and, in some cases, it may also lead to depression. These results come as a consequence of the lack of comprehensive policies which should be in place to protect people, in this case, to identify themselves freely.
Best way to go about it? Become an ally to anyone in need
The best thing people can do for each other is to help and support one another, in any way possible. In this case, the first step is to educate yourself more on the subject and understanding the struggles individuals go through in finding themselves, including the anxiety faced through one's self, on top of publicly displaying it. We highly encourage all readers to read through the cited report. It is also very important not to assume with wrong intentions.
Standing against discrimination and advocating for an environment where one can perform to the best of their abilities by not hiding who they are is crucial. This can be done through suggesting, implementing, and supporting policies which are inclusive and diverse, advocating for them and sticking to what’s morally correct. While having policies in place is helpful, alerting authorities when such policies are not respected is crucial.
“While approximately half the respondents knew that discrimination was prohibited by law, they did not report such incidents. Discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation is prohibited by the Employment Equality Directive (Directive 2000/78/EC); and the Gender Equality Directive (recast) (Directive 2006/54/EC), as interpreted in light of the case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), covers discrimination on the grounds of gender identity with respect to transgender persons who underwent, are undergoing or intend to undergo gender reassignment.” One should effectively use their voice when they notice something is not ethical towards individuals who identify as part of the queer community. If one would like to show further support, they can donate to organisations that advocate for queer rights and support LGBTQ+.
To create a workplace which is inclusive and safe for everyone requires a collective effort and commitment by all. By understanding the challenges faced by LGBTQ+ individuals, advocating for change and being an ally, one can play a pivotal role in creating a more inclusive future for the business world. Remember, no one is more important than the other. People who look down on others need to remember that we are all under the same sky.