Recruitment firm Totaljobs found in a 2021 report that 32% of trans people experienced discrimination or abuse at their workplace during the last five years. No surprise then that more than two in five trans individuals have quit their jobs, in the same period, after finding the environment unwelcoming.
Add to this the concerning stats reported last month that the UK’s ranking in Europe in terms of the rights given to LGBTQ+ people has dropped for the third year in a row – from being at the top in 2015 to number 14 in the rankings only seven years later. Reasons for this include the fact that the current Government has not retained the same commitment to enhancing the rights of minority groups that previous administrations have.
When looking at public sentiment towards LGBTQ+ people in the UK, the latest Stonewall survey published in June 2022 reports that one in ten respondents felt negative feelings, like disgust and resentment, towards members of the LGBTQ+ community. Of this relative minority, a significant number (40%) expressed anti-trans sentiment and also said they felt the same about all gay, lesbian and bi people.
Apart from the risk of physical harm from violence against people, a range of discriminatory practices may also negatively affect a person’s psychological and physical wellbeing. After all, to realise one’s full potential, a person should feel valued and secure.
The private sector does not have to follow the Government in letting us down. Together with colleagues in many other industries, those of us in the property industry must continue to advocate for the rights of our community.
Organisations and networks of like-minded individuals and community members working together for a common cause play a very important role. If your industry has a body like this, join up and make a difference. These organisations represent the interests of individuals in a specific sector and seek to raise the profile and narrow the equality gap that persists. When looking at the challenges faced by members of the LGBTQ+ community, here are some topics to discuss in your company:
“When people feel totally authentic in themselves and included in their organisations, they can achieve their full potential. Transgender employees are no exception,” says Clare Fielding, a trans member of Freehold, an organisation of LGBTQ+ real estate professionals.
Her top tips for employers are to have trans-inclusive policies, demystify trans issues through sharing experiences and training, provide gender-neutral bathroom options, and allow people to specify their pronouns where needed if they choose to do so.
If someone in your workplace is transitioning, be supportive by talking to them and identifying their needs. Also, find out whether their colleagues need support or training in handling the situation.
Participation of employers
Employers should be willing to engage with internal networks and support and help those who want to set one up. Contacting an existing network for assistance is a good idea, as they probably already have the resources, skills and knowledge on how to effectively help in this regard. Applying the know-how and experiences of others who have gone through the same issues is a great way of promoting a new outlook and getting employers involved in setting about change.
Having the support of people outside the community makes all the difference – for instance, those in senior roles in companies, our colleagues, friends or family members. Our collective strength enables us to overcome challenges more effectively. A good ally offers support in different ways, whether in a financial (equal pay) or emotional (guidance, training and counselling) capacity.
LGBTQ+ allies should know how to elevate the voices of individuals from a range of identities, including the most marginalised. The biggest corporations, companies, and celebrities seldom acknowledge the broader suffering.
Looking to the future and attracting talent from less traditional routes is important. A focus on the next generation through initiatives set out by already established mediums, like Pride, university, college and school programmes, helps to secure the conversation not just now but for years to come.
In-person events are a great way to meet like-minded people. They give valuable opportunities to share experiences and learn from one another. LGBTQ+ members who face discrimination and social isolation could find that physical events offer vital opportunities for connection, support, and belonging. Sharing experiences and learning from one another could also benefit mental health. Above all, it also creates an environment where you can feel totally included and accepted.
Have Pride all year long
By using Pride Month as an opportunity to engage with your staff and to get them to share their own stories and experiences, a culture of inclusion can be nurtured. This can then translate into a permanent sense of inclusion, openness and sharing between employees, including other minority groups. Don’t forget to let your hair down during the month and, if possible, have a party!