Every year, the month of June sees countries across the world celebrate Pride Month. This month is dedicated to the celebration and commemoration of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender pride. It sees celebration of LGBTQ+ culture, and advocacy of LGBTQ+ rights.
June was declared Pride month to commemorate the Stonewall riots which took place in Manhattan, New York, on June 28 1969.

Facts and Figures
Figures from the 2021 census show there are more than 1.3 million people in England and Wales, that identify as LGB (Lesbian, Gay or Bisexual).

  • 262,000 people recorded their gender as being different from the sex registered at birth.
  • Almost 1 in 5 LGBT staff have reported being the target of unwanted comments or conduct from work colleagues.
  • Over a third of LGBTQ+ people feel that they have to hide who they are at work.
  • LGBTQ+ employees are more likely to experience conflict and harassment at work than their heterosexual, cisgender
    colleagues. 29% of heterosexual, cisgender employees reported such conflict, compared with 40% of LGB+ workers, and
    55% of trans workers.
  • In terms of feeling safe at work, 16% of LGB+ and 18% of trans employees feel psychologically unsafe in the workplace.
    For heterosexual workers, this figure sits at 10%.

How can you ensure inclusivity within the workplace?

There are many ways you can promote inclusivity within the workplace. Below we have detailed a few which relate to
some of the HR aspects:

  • Ensure your policies and procedures are not discriminatory to employees of different gender, sex or sexual
  • Use gender neutral language both verbally and within written policies and documents – avoid using “he” to denote generic gender
  • Champion and embed a culture which focusses on inclusivity
  • Ensure managers are trained to deal with any concerns or issues which may arise, and create an open culture
    where employees feel comfortable to raise concerns
  •  Provide training to managers and leaders to ensure familiarity with discrimination, bias and management styles
  • Review your recruitment and selection processes to ensure you are not discriminating against potential applicants
  • Create, or provide access to gender neutral toilets (if possible)

Relevant Case Law
There are numerous cases passed through tribunals relating to discrimination. Here we have detailed three entirely different cases, along with the outcomes that were found by the judge. Michael Hollingworth was called a “drama queen” and later dismissed from his role at a Social Club in West Yorkshire after telling bosses he was gay. He provided evidence to the tribunal of how treatment towards him changed drastically after telling them he was gay, with examples including the boss trying to replace him in his role, and telling him that being gay “was not going to work in a social club”

Hollingworth had worked at the club since September 2021. He was dismissed for an error in finances, however the tribunal found that the real reason was Sexual Orientation Discrimination and Harassment. He was awarded £18,641 in compensation.

In another recent case, a man has been awarded damages for harassment relating to his perceived sexuality. The man worked as an apprentice for Cavity Claim Group, and reported 2 occasions where his boss acted in a discriminatory manner towards him. On the first occasion his boss told him in a message that he was gay. On the second, his boss threatened him, saying “listen you little gay boy….”. He was awarded £2,763 in compensation and interest.

The final case is an older case (2011) but one with an interesting outcome. This relates to Austin v Samuel Grant, in which an employee was harassed by colleagues and called “gay” and “homosexual” because he did not like football. He was repeatedly mocked by two colleagues (one of whom was the managing director) for not liking football, and for his interest in the arts, as well as helping with housework at home.

Further actions by the pair included changing his screensaver to pornographic images, and discussing their religious views (as Jehovah’s Witnesses), in which they openly referred to various colleagues as “pagans”. Austin raised a grievance, which was dismissed. A few months later the company terminated his employment due to his sales figures not being met. He had only worked for the company for around seven months.

The tribunal found that Austin was not required to be homosexual himself in order to receive protection under the Equality Act, and he was therefore protected under the grounds of his “perceived sexuality”. He was found to have suffered both sexual orientation and religion or belief harassment. His grievance was found to be a “protected act” which led to his dismissal.

He was awarded nearly £44,000, and the company were ordered to provide equality and diversity training to the employees. This case is particularly interesting as it shows that an employee does not need to possess a protected characteristic in order to be protected from discrimination.

Advice and Support

If you need any support implementing any of the measures we have detailed, or if you would like to discuss training or
any other support for your staff, please contact us.