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Homophobia in the workplace costing engineering industry ‘billions’

Caroline Seddon December 8, 2015

Report finds billions of pounds lost every year through homophobia in the workplace

A new report has found that a whopping £11.2 billion a year is lost in the engineering sector alone due to anti-gay discrimination.

The study was jointly published by Conservative MP Alec Shelbrooke and Dr Mark McBride-Wright, Chair and Co-founder of industry network group InterEngineering.

They discovered that homophobic bullying and outdated attitudes place pressure on LGBT members of the industry to remain in the closet leading to lack of progression in the sector.

Mr Shelbrooke – an ex Mechanical Engineer – commissioned the report to show how the industry can be “transformed through proactive, educational teamwork and leadership”.

He adds “Companies that have adopted such an approach have seen up to a 30% increase in productivity from openly LGBT employees as a direct result of a happier and more cohesive workplace”.

According to surveys quoted in the report, over half of LGBT people in engineering choose to remain in the closet through a fear of the impact coming out could have on their careers, and 33% of gay engineers interviewed said they felt their sexuality had acted as a barrier to career progression.

Lord Browne of Madingley, a former chief executive for BP shared his own experiences of working in the engineering industry.

“As a graduate trainee engineer at BP in the 1960s, it was immediately obvious to me that being gay in business and most definitely in the oil business, was unacceptable”.

“This report explores the consequences of failing to create an inclusive work environment,” he added.

It shows that when people are not comfortable bringing their whole selves to work they do not engage and productivity suffers as a result.

“Hiding my sexuality made me deeply unhappy, and I was a more reserved leader.”

Whilst the macho culture is usually attributed to sector’s such as construction, until now, little has been known or documented about homophobia in engineering despite 5.4million people being employed in the industry.

The findings have lead to calls for engineering firms and the government to join forces in a bid to tackle homophobia by establishing a diversity and inclusion policy.

Currently only three leading companies feature in Stonewalls 2015 Workplace Equality Index.

More: engineering, Homophobia, homophobic, LGBT, Stonewall

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