UK Professionals Experience Homophobic Bullying

UK Professionals experience homophobic bullying

Employees will spend a large portion of their time in the workplace, which often means that they spend equally amounts of time with their colleagues. As such, it is important that employees are able to work in an environment that they feel comfortable and happy in.

For many workers in the LGBT+ community however, this may not be possible due to homophobic bullying. New research has emerged from CV-Library that found over one in 10 professionals (11.7%) has experienced homophobic bullying while at work.

The survey of 1,200 UK workers also found that 15.4% has witnessed a colleague being subject to homophobic bullying. It may be obvious to some people that this should be immediately reported to their HR department, but an alarming number (59.1%) said their employer either does not have, or they are not aware of, any anti-discrimination policies.

People Afraid To Report Homophobic Bullying

To add to this, just over a quarter (27%) felt that they either would not, or were not sure if they would, feel that they were confident enough to report any homophobic bullying they witness. A report from 2016 called LGBT Allies: The Power of Friends surveyed almost 3,000 people across 60 countries and asked what homophobic language they over overhear.

It found that 57% were too scared to report overhearing any anti-LGBT comments. A particularly sad statistic is that 49% of respondents were worried that if they did report the comments, they might be assumed to be gay.

Homophobic Comments Are Against The Law

For workers in the UK, it is important to know that the Equality Act 2010 has been created to protect employees from discrimination in the workplace. This act protects a number of minorities from discrimination and includes people’s sexual orientation as well as gender reassignment.

As per Stonewall, the Equality Act 2010 refers to harassment as ‘unwanted conduct which violates someone’s dignity or creates an intimidating, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.” This means that while someone may think that they are just engaging in some harmless jokes or banter in the workplace, in actual fact they could be making someone feel uncomfortable or harassed which is unlawful.

Harassment does not just come in the form of jokes or banter, but can also be found in insults and threats. While this may seem obvious, it also includes degrading references to sexual orientation or gender identity, exclusion from social events or activities, spreading rumours or gossip relating to sexual orientation or gender and asking intrusive questions.

For LGBT+ individuals who are not out in the workplace, it is important to remember that the Equality Act 2010 also applies to them as well. Colleagues, who harass people based on sexual orientation or gender identity, even if that identity is not actually known or wrongly perceived, are still breaking the law.

What Should Workplaces Do?

Organisations have a duty to ensure that they have an up to date anti-discrimination policy that employees are actively aware of. This should be somewhere that can be found easily and the support for LGBT+ employees should be robust.

It is equally important employers take action against anyone who is breaking the Equality Act 2010. As such, ensure that your workplace is open and that people feel comfortable and okay with reporting any homophobic behaviour to their line managers. Action should be taken as well to ensure that employees realise that unacceptable behaviour will be dealt with accordingly, this can also help to encourage people to come forward if they witness anything.

Managers should also attempt to make sure that their workplaces are welcoming by making it clear that behaviour such as this is unacceptable. For employees who either witness or experience homophobic bullying, it is important to go through the proper channels that your workplace has put in place to report this behaviour. While it may be a nervous situation, it is crucial that bullying is not tolerated in the workplace.

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Sarah Jubb

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