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Making the workplace a safe space to be LGB&T

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Being yourself at work is key to being able to achieve both your personal and professional potential.

The evidence about the benefit to businesses of helping colleagues feel able to bring their authentic selves to work is building every day.

The Open for Business (2015) report led by 14 global businesses demonstrated that:

  • Economies perform better without discrimination against LGB&T persons
  • Companies perform better in societies that support LGB&T inclusion
  • Individuals perform better in environments that support LGB&T inclusion

Business has an important role to play in addressing these issues, but it is not always easy. The ILGA reported that in 72 countries, being LGBT still carries a judicial sentence and, in 13 countries, the death sentence.

The Centre for Talent Innovation report Out in The World (2016) highlighted three models for engagement that global companies can adhere to. These are:

  • When In Rome – adhere to local norms
  • Embassy – ensure there are LGBT protective policies on corporate campuses
  • Advocate – support local LGBT activism and lobby legislators

Although there has been significant progress in terms of legislation in the UK in recent years, this is not mirrored across the globe, and the pace of change appears to be much slower for LGBT issues than for other diversity and inclusion issues.

The Economist Intelligence Unit report Pride and Prejudice (2016) found in a benchmark survey of over 1,000 global opinion leaders that:

  • In most countries LGBT individuals remain ”a minority hidden in plain sight”
  • There is slow progress globally - just 36% of respondents report strong progress on LGBT diversity in their companies over the past five years (this compares with 46% for race and ethnicity and 54% for gender)
  • All are agreed there is a strong role for business advocacy

PHE is committed to being an inclusive and compassionate employer that supports our diverse and talented workforce to truly be their authentic selves at work.

We have worked proactively with PHE Rainbow Alliance (our LGBT Staff Network), the Civil Service Rainbow Alliance, the Stonewall through the Champions network and Equality Index to review our progress and improve our offer to LGBT staff in the organisation.

Although we have yet to break into the top 100 of the Stonewall Equality Index we have seen improvement every year in our Index scores and feedback which reflects the corporate effort being put into closing the inequality gap for our staff.

Over the past year we have launched our first LGBT Mentoring Circle, led by two of our senior staff; expanded membership of our PHERA Allies Network; developed our trans inclusion policy to better support our trans staff; awarded and celebrated staff’s work on LGBT inclusion through our PHE diversity and inclusion awards; and supported LGBT staff through targeted learning and development opportunities.

Tony Vickers-Byrne, our HR Director, recently took up the full time role as PHE Chief Adviser - Diversity and Inclusion and Staff Health and Wellbeing to contribute to PHE’s commitment to become a more inclusive and diverse employer.

The vision for our new Diversity and Inclusion and Staff Health and Wellbeing Unitis to ensure that every one of our 5,300 staff across our 64 sites can bring their real selves, every day, to a workplace which is fair, inclusive, safe and supportive.

We are also part of Professor Sir Cary Cooper’s National Forum for Health and Wellbeing, working with a range of large companies to help improve health in the workplace.  I’m particularly keen to communicate the links between improved staff health and wellbeing and effective diversity and inclusion, and demonstrate its value as an important part of being a compassionate employer.

Tony Vickers-Byrne

PHE’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is led from the top of the organisation by Duncan Selbie, our Chief Executive.

Having a job is good for your health. Being yourself at work makes the workplace better in every way and the benefits are tangible. PHE aims to be a place where people can do their best work and that means we welcome and celebrate diversity and value the difference our LGBT staff bring to our workplaces.

Duncan Selbie

Look out for more blogs on LGBT health this week  - subscribe to this blog or follow us on Twitter @PHE_uk

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