LGBT History Month: How Far Has the Workplace Come?

It’s LGBT History Month this February. A time to celebrate LGBTQ+ history. So, we thought it was the perfect moment to shed some light on whether the UK workplace has progressed in its fight towards a more equal workplace for those within the LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, plus) community.

According to the Office of National Statistics, 1.4 million Brits above 16 identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual. That’s a massive jump from 1.2 million in 2018. However, this increase does not change the horrifying fact that many individuals face discrimination in the workplace. Nearly one in five LGBTQ+ members say that they have been the target of a negative comment or conduct at work. When we take a step outside the workplace, this number is even higher. A disturbing three in five LGBTQ+ members have experienced a hate crime in their lives.

With that in mind, let’s look at how far the workplace has come and what we can do to tackle this discrimination for LGBT History Month.

LGBT History Month: The Equality Act 2010

Since 2003, discrimination and bullying in the workplace due to someone’s sexual orientation has been unlawful. Furthermore, the Equality Act 2010 means organisations must promote equality for their lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans staff. This rule applies to all and any paid employees in the UK.

British History in The Workplace

As it’s LGBT History Month, let’s take a look at the UK’s history. The Equality Act hasn’t always been around.

Alan Turing

Alan Turing was a computer scientist who helped break German coding in WW2. He was a bright mind and even inspired a film depicting his trials and tribulations starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley. Harrowingly, in 1952 Turing was convicted for gross indecency, due to his sexual orientation, which led to his chemical castration.

Roberta Cowell

Although many accounts in LGBT History Month may be gloomy, many are not. For example, Roberta Cowell was the first transgender woman to undergo vaginoplasty surgery in the UK that we know. Cowell, a former WW2 spitfire pilot, continued her career as a racing driver and even published an autobiography in 1954.

Tackling Discrimination is For Life, Not Just for LGBT History Month

In short, tackling discrimination of any minority needs to be a continued effort. Workplaces should have their own individual policies to make sure this happens rather than hoping for the best.

Here are a few pointers to help you be LGBTQ+ friendly.

  1. Educate yourself on LGBTQ+ issues
  2. Speak up about bullying (including jokes)
  3. Listen to LGBTQ+ members
  4. Provide access to support such as wellbeing hub’s and charities where needed
  5. Be visible in your support all year round
  6. Support LGBTQ+ charities
  7. Avoid making assumptions
  8. Be constantly aware, not just during LGBT History Month or Pride.
  9. Support LGBTQ+ charities
  10. Be a nice human

Doing these simple tasks can even help improve employee engagement by creating a friendly, welcoming atmosphere.

To summarise, LGBT History Month is a time to reflect and educate yourself on the past. Take time to understand the community’s difficulties and success stories, therefore getting closer to becoming an ally.

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