February 11, 2021
LGBT+ workers experience higher levels of conflict at work
The CIPD has launched a new research report ‘Inclusion at work: Perspectives on LGBT+ working lives’ to highlight how LGBT+ workers tend to have a more negative experience of work.
The report, supported by academics at the University of Bath, draws on data from the CIPD’s UK Working Lives Survey and a separate survey of trans workers to explore their perspectives on working life, hence the intentional use of LGB+ rather than LGBT in the research findings.
Over 40 percent of LGB+ workers experienced a conflict at work over a twelve-month period, compared with 29 percent of heterosexual workers. Conflicts typically involve being undermined/ humiliated or discriminatory behaviour aimed at a protected characteristic.
More than half (55 percent) of trans workers surveyed said they had experienced conflict over a twelve-month period and at least 50 percent of these conflicts were unresolved. 12 percent of trans workers said they have experienced unwanted sexual attention at work and 2 percent have experienced sexual assault.
Trans workers were least likely to feel psychologically safe (able to be accepted, valued, and able to voice concerns) at work. Almost 1 in 5 (18 percent) said they felt psychologically unsafe at work compared with 16 percent of LGB+ workers and 10 percent of heterosexual workers.
LGB+ and heterosexual workers reported similar job satisfaction levels with around 66 percent of both groups saying they felt somewhat to very satisfied at work. However, a slightly higher proportion of LGB+ workers felt somewhat to very dissatisfied with their job, compared with heterosexual workers (19 percent vs 15 percent). Just over 50 percent of trans workers reported feeling somewhat to very satisfied with their job and a third (33 percent) said they felt somewhat to very dissatisfied.
Melanie Green, research adviser for the CIPD, said: “Our research suggests that many LGB+ and trans workers don’t feel safe to express themselves and be accepted at work. This can have a negative impact on their working relationships, wellbeing and overall job satisfaction.
“It’s particularly concerning to see how many LGBT+ workers have experienced conflict and that more often than not, these conflicts are not resolved. This must stop. Everyone has the right to feel safe, to be themselves and to flourish at work. Employers must do more to support these groups and create inclusive cultures that have zero tolerance of bullying and harassment of any kind.
“Everyone has the right to feel safe, to be themselves and to flourish at work.”
“When creating inclusive practices employers must recognise the unique challenges faced by LGBT+ workers. For instance, recognising that a lesbian will face very different challenges to a trans person at work. Employers must treat people as individuals rather than assuming that any general measures to address LGBT+ as a homogenous group will sufficiently meet a spectrum of diverse needs. If we are to truly celebrate and support individuality we must start with the individual.”
The CIPD’s report suggests that much more needs to be done at an organisational level to protect, support and include LGBT+ workers, and trans workers in particular.
Dr Luke Fletcher, Associate Professor at the University of Bath’s School of Management, and co-author of the report said: “The report highlights the different challenges and needs that groups in the LGBT+ spectrum have. During the pandemic we’ve seen a lot of blanket changes come into place to protect employee wellbeing but businesses must also think about how best to adapt broader policies and practices to specific minority groups such as those within the LGBT+ spectrum.
“Being proactive on inclusion sends a clear message to current and future employees on the values that your organisation has regarding how it supports its people.”
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