Louise’s lowdown: Employers step up on LGBTQ workplace policies


In December 2016, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation published the Corporate equality index 2017, which rates large US organisations on their lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) workplace policies and practices. Some 887 employers were rated in the index, with 517 of those achieving the top possible score of 100, up from 407 in 2016. Organisations such as Accenture, Bloomberg, Coca-Cola, Deutsche Bank and Twitter are among those with a perfect score.

Almost all (98%) of the rated organisations provide same-sex domestic partner or spousal benefits. The percentage of rated employers that have an employee resource group or diversity council that includes LGBT and allied employees and programming has more than doubled since the report’s inception in 2002, rising from 40% to 88%. Now almost three-quarters (73%) of rated organisations offer transgender-inclusive healthcare coverage, compared to 60% in 2016, and zero when the index launched in 2002.

Employers in the UK are also continuing to commit to developing LGBT-inclusive workplaces; 415 organisations participated in Stonewall’s Workplace equality index in 2016, the highest number in its 12-year history. MI5, Lloyds Banking Group, and the National Assembly for Wales claimed the top spots in Stonewall’s Top 100 employers list in January 2016, and a further nine organisations achieved star performer status, including EY, Goldman Sachs, the Home Office, and IBM.

Visible leadership and role models continue to play a key role in driving forward the inclusivity agenda and creating a culture where all staff feel supported at work. A survey of 60,506 employees who work for the organisations taking part in the Workplace equality index found that 92% of respondents who report that there are visible LGBT role models in their workplace also feel that their organisation is LGBT inclusive, compared to 52% of respondents that do not see visible role models. Around two-thirds (63%) of LGB respondents agree senior leaders demonstrate a visible commitment to sexual orientation equality, up from 53% in 2015. However, there is still work to be done; just 42% of trans respondents believe senior leaders demonstrate a visible commitment to trans equality, with 30% neither agreeing nor disagreeing.

Some organisations are taking steps to provide further support to trans employees, as well as looking at inclusion and diversity more broadly. EY, for example, launched an internal guide on gender identity, expression and gender transition in August 2016 in order to educate, increase awareness and provide information on how to support staff going through gender transition.

Fostering an inclusive and diverse workplace culture offers employees an environment in which they can perform at their best, which has obvious benefits for individuals, teams and businesses. The Stonewall employee survey found that 87% of LGB respondents who are comfortable being completely out at work are more likely to be satisfied with the support they receive from their manager, compared to just over half (51%) of respondents who do not feel comfortable disclosing their sexual identity to colleagues, clients or customers.