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Two steps forward, one step back

Two steps forward, one step back

Author: Mairi McHaffie

So much has happened over the past fifty years for LGBT people in the UK that some find it difficult to imagine a time when people were arrested for their choice of partner. However, LGBT people and their allies all over the world are still fighting for their right to make a safe and public commitment to each other.

The London Pride Parade has become a global event for people, regardless of their identity, to celebrate LGBT culture and pride. What is frustrating is that in the UK for every step forward we make there is very often a huge and despondency inducing step back for LGBT people and the many millions who believe in equality for all.

So where´s the evidence?

In the workplace…

  • GAYDAR magazine reported that 43% of gay men experienced homophobia in the workplace
  • The Williams Institute states that gay men earn 10-32% less than their heterosexual counterparts
  • Stonewall’s research suggests that 25% of LGBT people are not ‘out’ with their work colleagues
  • Perhaps most astounding of all is the findings from The Human Rights Campaign that indicates 62% of LGBT millennial graduates heading off to work go back into the closet.

All suggesting that LGBT people perceive that it is ‘safer’ for their career to stay ‘in the closet’.

Is it all bad news?

No there have been some significant break-throughs:

  • The London Business School reports that their intake of LGBT students has more than doubled since 2010
  • In May 2017 Christopher Bailey was appointed as CEO of Burberry – the first openly ‘out’ CEO of a FTSE 100 company
  • In June 2017 Serbia got its first female, and gay, Prime Minister
  • The German Parliament passed a bill giving same sex couples equal marriage rights, June 2017
  • In July 2017 a man won an equal pensions rights for his husband in the Supreme Court in a landmark case

Why is it a big problem?

The evidence is overwhelming these days that more diverse teams are more productive, effective and make more money. Every person in a team brings unique skills and experience to the table and the more diverse your team is, the more likely they are to be able to effectively respond and relate to the increasing variety of global clients.

Every leader’s role is to get the right person for the job and to ensure that every individual is able to bring their multitude of skills and experience to the table for the benefit of the team.

Some LGBT people have reported that they have been advised that they should not be ‘openly gay’ particularly in senior leadership positions as it could be detrimental to their careers. Yet repeatedly we see examples reported of LGBT people losing confidence, feeling as though they are being dishonest with colleagues with a resultant very real impact on their effectiveness and productivity, to say nothing of the impact on their emotional health.

People are your organisation’s greatest resources. It doesn’t make sense to take on the best in your field and hinder them from being the most effective resource they can be. Even if you’re not hindering them – are you as a leader or as an organisation providing them with the support they need to bring their whole selves to work? This is the only way to ensure that they have the best chance to reach their potential. The fact is that if your greatest resources can’t do their best in your workplace, then your organisation will never reach its full potential either.

But what can we do about it?

The very good news is that there is a lot your organisation can do to rectify or avoid this problem.
All advice from LGBT groups and people have a similar theme. Any serious change that is not just lip service requires a strong, active lead from the top.

Here´s what you can do:

  • Increase representation of LGBT people in senior levels in business and politics
  • Encourage heterosexual people to make their support public and vocal
  • Corporations to promote an inclusive environment in support of LGBT employees
  • Empowering all employees to be more inclusive in language and behaviour
  • Encouraging all employees to become aware of their unconscious biases
  • Take complaints seriously

Scenechange has been working with some of the UK’s largest corporations and government departments who have a significant and active commitment to their LGBT employees.

Our unique Coaching Squared peer to peer programme’s objectives for LGBT people are to:

  • Boost confidence
  • Raise career prospects, and
  • Develop leadership & management skills

It provides a platform for LGBT employees with comparable senior and middle management level skills and experience to meet and select an independent, objective peer in another organisation, to act as a co-coaching partner.

A senior TfL participant stated that this programme gave them:

‘the opportunity to engage and learn something different from another person with a non-biased perspective…My confidence has definitely improved…I would encourage more companies to adopt this method of coaching as I believe it will encourage and improve a person’s attitude towards wanting to do better, not only in the workplace but generally in their day to day life’.

If your organisation wants to proactively encourage your LGBT employees to reach their full potential then there are still some places available on our next LGBT Coaching Squared Programme starting on 12th October 2017.

If you are an LGBT employee and would appreciate taking part in this extremely successful programme, then please call us on 020 7060 2067.

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