Stonewall research highlights business case for supporting LGB staff

Tony Grew July 3, 2008
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The Secretary of State for Business John Hutton is to launch pioneering Stonewall research today.

The study, which was sponsored by IBM, is based on more than one hundred in-depth interviews with lesbian, gay and bisexual people from 21 public and private sector organisations.

It found that participants almost universally reported a positive link between workplace climate and their own productivity and performance.

It outlines a “compelling business case” for good practice around sexual orientation in the workplace.

Ben Summerskill, Stonewall chief executive, said:

“Lesbian and gay respondents who feel able to be out at work, and well supported by their employers, reported that they are significantly more effective, more motivated and built better working relationships with colleagues.

“This is a powerful lesson for employers across Britain. Lesbian and gay equality at work evidently makes good business sense.”

Interviewees, who ranged from partners to administrative staff, identified that robust, inclusive policies, employee network groups, senior lesbian and gay role models and expressions of commitment to lesbian and gay employees from senior leaders are all ways that significantly encourage gay staff to perform better because they can be themselves.

However, most participants in the research chose not to to identify their own workplace in the report.

“This is stark evidence that lesbian and gay staff still don’t feel comfortable enough in their working environment,” said Mr Summerskill.

“Workplaces can still do more to be supportive and welcoming of potential lesbian and gay recruits.

“In an increasingly competitive labour market, employers who don’t take lesbian and gay equality seriously risk losing out to those who do.”

Stonewall’s Diversity Champions programme promotes good practice around sexual orientation in the workplace.

The largest diversity forum in Britain, its members now employ more than four million people. It is to announce its 400th member in the coming weeks.

Observations from lesbian and gay staff included in the research:

“You’d have to pay me a lot more than I get paid here to go somewhere else. I just feel very comfortable here and I feel very accepted. I feel very loyal to the organisation.”

“If I’m not out at work, I spend more time trying to conceal my home life and therefore not concentrating on my job.”

“It’s really great management. I feel at the moment I’ve got absolutely no desire to look elsewhere for work.”

“I have the experience with my current manager where I feel very unsupported around some homophobic things. I am very conscious of the impact of that on my work.”

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