Stonewall research has suggested that bisexual people face a number of challenges in being open about their sexuality at work.
The LGB charity commissioned research and interviews with bisexual employees and found that feeling excluded by lesbian and gay co-workers was a particular concern for bisexual staff.
It found that both straight and gay people were likely to have little awareness of bisexuality, assuming that bisexuals must be in the closet or straight people wanting to experiment.
One private sector worker told researchers: “I think the lesbian and gay community has made tremendous strides of progress over the last several years. Of course there’s a long way to go, but I would say that the bisexual community is many years behind where the lesbian and gay community is.”
Subjects also reported that stereotypes of bisexual people sometimes impacted on colleagues’ perceptions of their work, citing concerns they were seen as evasive and complicated.
Based on the research gathered, Stonewall has released a guide for employers on supporting bisexual workers, titled Bisexual People in the Workplace. It suggests ensuring language in official policies includes phrases such as ‘LGB’ instead of ‘gay’ and the need to consult bisexual staff when policies are reviewed.
Other advice includes making bisexual staff welcome to gay events and ensuring they have access to bisexual mentors and role models.
David Shields, Stonewall’s director of workplace programmes, said: “Bisexual employees, like all staff, perform better when they can be themselves. For many bisexual employees it can be difficult to be open about their sexual orientation – particularly if they don’t feel that their employee network is supportive of bisexual staff.
“There are a number of practical actions employers can take to include bisexual staff at work. By making workplaces more inclusive everyone benefits and employers can make the most of the talent they have.”