People’s experiences still vary widely.

A major new survey into the experiences of LGBT people at work has been launched. The TUC, who are carrying out the research, will use the findings to campaign on the issues most affecting LGBT people in the UK, produce new training information for trade union reps, and help employers create a more inclusive workplace. TUC policy expert Huma Munshi explains more:

Being a trade unionist and a woman of colour, I know only too well that laws are effective only insofar as they are properly implemented. Making discrimination illegal has meant better safeguards for LGBT people, but we know that people’s experiences on the ground can vary widely.

It matters that there are ways for people to get help because, despite changes in the law, LGBT people still experience difficulties at work.   

In 2013 it was reported that 19% of lesbian, gay and bi employees had experienced verbal bullying from colleagues, customers or service users because of their sexual orientation in the last five years. 13% of lesbian, gay and bi employees would not feel confident reporting homophobic bullying in their workplace and 26% of lesbian, gay and bi workers are not at all open to colleagues about their sexual orientation.

If you’re a lesbian or bisexual woman you may experience sexual harassment as well as homophobic and biphobic abuse. Recent TUC research indicates more than half (52%) of women, and nearly two-thirds (63%) of women aged 18-24 years old, said they have experienced sexual harassment at work. 

If you’re a trans woman you may experiences different and greater forms of discrimination. Research shows that 60% of trans people have experienced transphobic discrimination in the workplace either from colleagues or management and 53% have felt the need to hide their trans status from colleagues.

The TUC is launching an online survey to understand these issues better for all workers – whether you are in a union or not. We want to know the experiences of LGBT people, including lesbian, bi and trans women, of work: what has worked well, what hasn’t, and if rates of discrimination and harassment have changed. We want to also understand how homophobia, biphobia or transphobia are impacted by issues of race and gender. 

We know that experiences of work can vary if you’re a woman of colour. It can depend on your position in a company, your work culture, your management, the diversity training in place and how able you are to go to someone for support if things go wrong.

We will use this research to campaign on the very real issues that exist for LGBT people. We will also produce training material for union reps to ensure they can represent all their members. Our guidance will also help employers work towards a more inclusive environment including training, getting the correct policies in place and supporting their lesbian, bisexual and trans staff when things go wrong.