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LGBT+ workers face increased workplace conflict, job dissatisfaction

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LGBT+ workers face increased workplace conflict, job dissatisfaction

LGBT+ workers face increased workplace conflict, job dissatisfaction
Photo by Reuters

26th February 2021

By: Donna Slater
Creamer Media Contributing Editor and Photographer

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More than 40% of workers who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or other nonbinary identities (LGB+) experienced work-affiliated conflict in 2020, compared with 29% of heterosexual workers, human resources and people development professional body the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) says.

The percentage rises to 55% when taking into account transgender workers and, of these cases, the report finds that at least 50% of such cases go unresolved.

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The organisation, in its latest report, titled 'Inclusion in the Workplace: Perspectives on LGBT+ working lives, reveals that, in comparison to other workers, those who are LGB+ and/or transgender (LGBT+), faced higher levels of conflict, lower levels of psychological safety and lower job satisfaction at work.

Conflicts typically involve being undermined and/or humiliated, or involve discriminatory behaviour aimed at a protected characteristic.

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The CIPD’s report, supported by academics at the University of Bath, in the UK, draws on data from the CIPD’s UK Working Lives Survey, as well as being supplemented by a separate survey of transgender workers to explore their perspectives on working life.

Twelve per cent of transgender workers reported experiencing unwanted sexual attention at work, while 2% have experienced sexual assault.

HOSTILE ENVIRONMENT

As a result, the report finds that almost one in five transgender workers were least likely to feel psychologically safe at work, with their ability of being accepted, valued and being able to voice concerns, being hindered. This compares with 16% of LGB+ workers and 10% of heterosexual workers feeling the same degree of psychological safety at work.

Further, LGB+ and heterosexual workers reported similar job satisfaction levels with about 66% of both groups saying they felt somewhat to very satisfied at work. This compares to about 50% of transgender workers reporting feeling somewhat to very satisfied with their job.

However, a slightly higher proportion (19%) of LGB+ workers felt somewhat to very dissatisfied with their job, compared with 15% of heterosexual workers. Thirty three per cent of transgender workers reported feeling somewhat to very dissatisfied.

CIPD research adviser Melanie Green says the research suggests that many LGBT+ workers do not feel safe to express themselves and be accepted at work. “This can have a negative impact on their working relationships, wellbeing and overall job satisfaction.”

She adds that it is particularly concerning about how many LGBT+ workers have experienced conflict and that more often than not, these conflicts are not resolved. “This must stop. Everyone has the right to feel safe, to be themselves and to flourish at work.”

MORE NEEDS TO BE DONE

The CIPD’s report suggests and recommends that much more needs to be done at an organisational level to protect, support and include LGBT+ workers, with specific mechanisms for transgender workers.

As such, the report recommends employers develop voice mechanisms for LGBT+ staff, and to ensure that such workers feel safe using them to highlight problems and provide solutions on the issue of inclusion. As such, the report recommends managers and senior members of companies should “lead by example” with strong buy-in from senior executives and senior sponsorship of employee resource groups.

The report also encourages company-wide learning and conversations on inclusion measures, as well as the training of line managers to understand particular concerns and challenges faced by LGBT+ workers with a focus on raising awareness of support needed by different groups.

Green adds that employers must do more to support these groups and create inclusive cultures that have zero-tolerance of bullying and harassment of any kind. “When creating inclusive practices, employers must recognise the unique challenges faced by LGBT+ workers. For instance, recognising that a lesbian will face very different challenges to a transgender person at work.”

Further, she says employers must treat people as individuals rather than assuming that any general measures to address LGBT+ as a homogenous group will sufficiently meet a spectrum of diverse needs. “If we are to truly celebrate and support individuality we must start with the individual.” 

University of Bath School of Management associate professor and co-author of the report Dr Luke Fletcher says that, during the Covid-19 pandemic, a lot of blanket changes come into place to protect employee wellbeing.

However, he notes that businesses must also think about how best to adapt broader policies and practices to specific minority groups such as those within the LGBT+ spectrum. 

“Being proactive on inclusion sends a clear message to current and future employees on the values that your organisation has regarding how it supports its people.”

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