Discrimination against LGBTQ+ people remains a significant issue within the workplace. In Stonewall’s LGBTQ+ in Britain Work Report, 35% of LGBTQ+ employees said they had hidden the fact they are LGBTQ+ at work for fear of discrimination. Furthermore, 10% of Black, Asian and minority ethnic LGBTQ+ employees had been physically attacked by customers or colleagues, and 12% had been physically attacked by customers or colleagues because of being trans.
While physical and mental abuse, stigma and discrimination persist in the workplace for LGBTQ+ people, businesses have a responsibility to create safe and inclusive places that enable this community to feel valued, respected and able to thrive professionally.
“There’s power in brands participating in Pride Month, and it’s important for their employees and their consumers to see support for the community during Pride Month. But it can’t just be during Pride Month,” Rich Ferraro said. “If a brand doesn’t have a 365-day-a-year plan for LGBTQ inclusion, they really need to prioritise that over prioritising a one-off Pride campaign.”
We spoke to our Director, Danielle Coleman, about her personal experiences within the recruitment and professional services sector.
What would you say are the biggest steps forward in the recruitment industry in terms of eliminating discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community?
In my opinion the most important change is that the industry is confident to talk about the issues that LGBTQ+ community members face. There is a much wider pool of resources for consultants to learn from and a willingness of LGBTQ+ individuals in the industry to share their stories. When the industry feels more comfortable talking about these issues, they are in a much stronger position to influence / advise potential clients. We also regularly see industry leaders lobbying Government for changes and improvements on some of these key topics. This willingness to talk and be open with candidates and clients will hopefully continue to have a positive impact across other industries as well. The on-going education and support to consultants in these subjects is essential to ensure that there is continuous improvement.
I also believe the amount of research that has been undertaken that demonstrates the positive impact that a diverse workforce can have on company performance has really helped to enlighten and educate businesses leaders. This has given companies a fiscal reason, on top of the obvious ethical and moral reasons, to work hard to create a diverse and inclusive culture.
Changes in legislation have bought some of these key issues to the forefront. The Gender Recognition Act of 2004 and The Equality Act of 2010 have tried to bring about equality for all, although the debate is still on-going about whether The Gender Recognition Act reform of recent years has gone far enough!!
The other area that has greatly helped push forward the people agenda in the last ten to fifteen years has been the realisation that people do make a business work. The role of the HR Leader / Team within businesses has got stronger and stronger during this time - it's now the norm that people and a strategy around employees are at the forefront at a Board / SMT level when discussing how the business will continue to achieve their goals.
What are the biggest barriers / challenges that still exist?
Ignorance. Whilst as an industry and country there have been some huge steps forward, there is still a long way to go. It saddens me to hear / read the regular stories of hate crimes and inequality faced by many.
"Figures from the Home Office show that anti-LGBT+ hate crime has, for the second year running, risen at twice the rate of other forms of hate crime. This is a truly worrying trend, and we call on the Government to make swift actions to tackle anti-LGBT+ violence and abuse.
Figures show that, overall, reported hate crime has grown by 8%, while hate crimes against LGB people have risen 19% in the same period, and transphobic hate crimes grew by 16%."
Being in recruitment for 17 years, do you see it as a forward-thinking sector, or do you think it still holds people to stereo types?
The sector is definitely forward thinking. We embrace change, new technology, economic challenges and support thousands of businesses across the UK to achieve their goals. The best Consultants in the industry embrace working with a diverse group of candidates and clients and are not afraid to challenge misconceptions whether they be around religion, age, race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, gender reassignment to name just a few.
Where do you think Cherry could improve?
One of our aims as a business is to ensure that we have an environment and the tools available so that everyone at Cherry can be happy and successful. I am proud of what we do as a business to ensure that everyone feels comfortable to turn up as their authentic self. We support and celebrate the individuals within our team and will continue to do so.
We will continue to work hard to ensure that we have a diverse team who are well educated when it comes to areas of diversity and inclusion.
Whether you are a C-suite executive, a middle manager, or just starting out in the workforce, each one of us can play a role in supporting LGBTQ+ inclusion at work. It is important to continue to celebrate activities and events like Pride, Trans Day of Visibility and LGBTQ+ History Month at work as this can also be incredibly powerful. Not only do days and months like these give organisations a chance to highlight LGBTQ+ role models in the business, but it also sends a clear message to wider society that they value diversity and inclusion.
The more organisations and individuals that stand up for equality, the sooner we will live in a world where all LGBTQ+ people are accepted without exception.