Lesbian Visibility Week is a time to celebrate and recognise the lesbian community in the UK. However, a new report released by recruitment firm Robert Walters reveals that LGBTQi+ women in the workplace are being let down, with more than half stating that they do not feel they are paid fairly.
LGBTQi+ women are, on average, the most unsatisfied group when it comes to discussions around pay, progression and the workplace compared to any other sexuality.
The report, which surveyed over 6,000 professionals, highlighted several concerning issues. It found that LGBTQi+ women are the most likely cohort to live ‘paycheque-to-paycheque’ (18%), are 10% less likely to be promoted than their male LGBTQi+ counterparts, and lack the most confidence in the workplace when it comes to asking for pay rises or promotions.
Lucy Bisset, Director of Robert Walters, commented that there had been some improvements over the last three years since the research had been carried out annually, but “we continue to see the presence of negative experiences of minority or marginalised groups in the workplace.
“The dial has been pushed on gender pay transparency – but this report highlights a more concerning issue that for LGBTQi+ women, it appears to be much harder for them even to approach the idea of negotiating for a better salary or a promotion.
“These differences cannot go on, and in light of Lesbian Visibility Week, I urge all employers to start diving deeper into the experiences of LGBTQi+ professionals in the workplace.”
Pay isn’t cutting it
55% of women who identify as LGBTQi+ state that their pay is not a fair representation of their work – over 10% more than LGBTQi+ men (43%) and heterosexual men (42%).
When analysing salaries, the report found that over double the number of straight and LGBTQ+ men earned above £55k compared to just 11% of LGBTQi+ women. Additionally, just 17% of LGBTQi+ women benefited from a bonus scheme with their employer, compared to 30% of heterosexual men.
Struggling to make ends meet
When comparing professional’s pay against cost-of-living, the widening gap is more dramatic for LGBTQi+ women.
Almost one in five states they are living ’paycheque-to-paycheque’ (18%) – more than any other sexual orientation (heterosexual female -16%, LGBTQ+ male -12%, and heterosexual male – 11%).
A third of LGBTQi+ women state that they have ‘some’ disposable income but must live sensibly to cover the cost of living, whilst a tenth (9.33%) admit to relying on additional forms of support and income to get by – including credit cards, pay-day loans, or side/weekend jobs.
When reviewing benefits, just 17% of LGBTQi+ women report benefiting from a bonus scheme with their employer – compared to 20% of heterosexual women, 26% of LGBTQi+ men, and 30% of heterosexual men (almost double).
Negotiations going nowhere
The report also found that 53% of LGBTQi+ women had not negotiated better pay when joining or during their time at their current employer—a quarter cited a lack of confidence or embarrassment as the primary reason for not negotiating for higher pay, the highest of any sexual orientation.
And when they did find the confidence to negotiate, almost a fifth of LGBTQi+ women (18%) stated that they received no salary increase following negotiation – compared to just 11% of men (LGBTQi+ and heterosexual) who said the same.
A new glass ceiling
When asked about the main challenges they faced in their career, a lack of opportunities, training and development offered to them and a lack of diversity in management or senior positions were the primary factors holding LGBTQi+ women back. The report also found that 25% of LGBTQi+ women were not confident to brag about their own wins or hard work, compared to just 16% of heterosexual men who said the same.
Bisset adds: “There is a clear call from this report – leaders of an organisation need to do more to help eradicate conscious and unconscious bias at line manager level so that LGBTQi+ women are given fair access to new opportunities or projects, training & support feels accessible and tailored, and communication lines are improved so that confidence in conversations around pay & progression improves for LGBTQi+ women.”
Excluded from the workplace
An alarming quarter of LGBTQi+ women report experiencing workplace discrimination surrounding their personal demographic – vs just 11% of LGBTQi+ men who stated the same.
And it seems the chances of this behaviour being reported are slim, with 1 in 5 LGBTQi+ women stating that they do not trust leaders of the organisation to stand up for and do what is right.
The Robert Walters report concluded that despite record levels of financial investment and human resources being put into diversity & inclusion strategies, a fifth of LGBTQi+ women report that their organisation fails to have initiatives to help them feel part of a connected community of colleagues – higher than any other sexual orientation.
Coral Bamgboye, Head of Equity, Diversity & Inclusion at Robert Walters Group, comments: “It would be amiss of me not to admit that we at Robert Walters are on our own journey of improving everything surrounding equality, diversity and inclusion.
“Much like ourselves and the setting up of multiple DE&I councils and working groups around the world, our goal is first to hear what our LGBTQi+ professionals have to say and to get them involved in the solution.
“Hesitation or fear on this matter from employers won’t serve to shift the dial on some of the shocking statistics featured in this report.”
Click here to download the Robert Walters: Diversity & Inclusion Strategy Report – A Focus on Gender & LGBTQi+ Equality.