Disabled and Gay?

Evenbreak focuses on disabled candidates and employees, but of course, disabled people are just as diverse as any other group of people. We know that disabled people commonly face many barriers in the workplace. And we know that people who are gay, lesbian or bi-sexual also face barriers in the workplace. So what if you are gay AND disabled?

Stonewall have conducted some interesting research recently, as reported in “Gay in Britain”. This research found that despite significant strides forward (e.g. the Gay Marriage Bill), there is still much to be done before equality is meaningful for many of our citizens.

In terms of the workplace, homophobic bullying remains a significant problem for gay people. 19 % (nearly one in five) gay, lesbian or bisexual people have experienced verbal bullying from colleagues, customers or service users in the last five years with reference to their sexual orientation.

Homophobic bullying happens at all levels of an organisation. Almost a third of those who have experienced bullying have been bullied by their manager, more than half by people in their own team and a quarter by people junior to them. Homophobic bullying is a problem regardless of employer size with lesbian, gay and bisexual employees in small to medium-sized organisations as likely as those in large organisations to experience bullying from colleagues.

One in eight (13%) lesbian, gay and bisexual employees said they would not feel confident reporting homophobic bullying in their workplace.

Previous Stonewall research has demonstrated the material benefit to productivity when gay employees are open and supported at work. However many gay people lack the confidence to be open at work with a quarter (26%) of lesbian, gay and bisexual workers not at all open to colleagues about their sexual orientation. This has parallels with people with “hidden” impairments such as mental health conditions who may choose not to be open about their conditions.

So with all these barriers experienced by gay, lesbian and bisexual employees, imagine the double whammy faced by disabled employees who also happen to be gay, lesbian or disabled.

We should be aiming for inclusion, fairness, and treating individuals with respect and dignity whatever their real or perceived “difference” might be.

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