Coming Out at Work

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Hannah Williamson

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18 Oct 2021

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Coming Out at Work

A significant amount of LGBT people do not feel comfortable ‘coming out’ at work.
This means they don’t want to disclose their sexual orientation and/or gender identity
to colleagues or management, due to fear of discrimination.

Showing your workplace is committed to diversity is the best way to make employees
feel comfortable being themselves in the workplace.

Here are 10 ways to do this:

  1. Have an equality policy that protects LGBT individuals in your workplace.
  2. Actively broadcast your equality policy to all employees.
  3. Have clearly defined bullying reporting procedures and encourage their usage.
  4. Support staff through diversity and inclusion training, including specialist training for line managers.
  5. Have a clear statement on diverse recruitment, and cut out bias in the recruiting process.
  6. Collect diversity data based on pay, and during the exit process. Use this data to inform and improve LGBT inclusion.
  7. Encourage the creation of an LGBT network group.
  8. Smaller organisations can make use of external LGBT networks.
  9. Encourage your senior management to promote and support LGBT equality.
  10. Display LGBT-friendly materials in the workplace to show you support diversity and inclusion.

Why is this important?

A considerable amount of LGBT individuals still do not feel comfortable being 'out' at work. It is important to remember that for many many LGBT employees, coming out is not just a one-time event, they will be coming out over an over again, whenever they meet new people they will be confronted by the overwhelming choice of whether to be open about their sexuality or gender identity, knowing full well the reaction many be negative.

Don't believe this is still an issue? Here are a few statistics from the recent 'LGBT in Britain: Work Report' produced by Stonewall in conjunction with YouGov:

  • 1 in 5 (18%) LGBT individuals aren’t open with anyone at work about their sexual orientation.
  • 2 in 5 (38%) bisexual individuals aren’t open with anyone at work about their sexual orientation.
  • 1 in 4 (26%) transgender individuals aren’t open about their gender identity.
  • 2 in 5 (37%) non-binary people aren’t open about their identity at work.
  • 1 in 5 (18%) LGBT people claim to have been discriminated against during the recruitment process.
  • 1 in 8 (12%) LGBT individuals are encouraged to hide or disguise their LGBT status by colleagues.
  • 1 in 10 (9%) transgender individuals aren’t able to using the toilet of the gender they identify with.
  • 35% of LGBT individuals have hidden their LGBT status due to fear of discrimination.
  • 51% of trans individuals have hidden their gender identity due to fear of discrimination.
  • 56% of LGBT individuals believe their senior managers do not demonstrate commitment to diversity/inclusion of LGBT staff.

Expert Support

For support with HR and employment law issues, speak to a Croner expert on 01455 858 132

About the Author

Hannah Williamson is a CIPD Qualified HR professional with over 10 years’ experience in generalist HR management working within the Manufacturing Industry.

Working for a Global manufacturer provided Hannah with the opportunity to work in America and across Europe supporting HR functions and the wider business.

Hannah is Croner’s Advice Manager, taking responsibility for overseeing the provision of advice to all Croner clients, bringing together our Corporate, Simplify and Association service provisions.

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