Only half of LGBTQ+ people feel comfortable coming out at work, study finds

Woman wearing a brown hijab folds her hands under her chin

A survey has found that a slim majority – just over half – of LGBTQ+ people in the UK feel comfortable being “out” in the workplace.

The study by consultancy firm Deloitte found that 52 per cent of the 402 LGBTQ+ Brits polled were comfortable being openly queer at work, compared to 43 per cent of the 5,474 LGBTQ+ people polled worldwide.

The survey also found that 43 per cent of LGBTQ+ people in the UK fear being seen differently by their straight, cisgender colleagues, compared to 39 per cent of respondents globally.

Deloitte polled queer people from 13 countries for the survey, and nearly half of the British respondents (49 per cent) reported being discriminated against at work due to their sexuality or gender identity.

Thirty-eight per cent said they had come up against homophobic or transphobic behaviour – including sexual jokes – at work. 

Phil Mitchell, co-lead for the Deloitte LGBTQ+ staff network Proud, said: “When people feel that their employers aren’t doing enough to support inclusion or are not taking non-inclusive behaviours seriously, many instances go unreported.

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“Employers should take action to ensure that they provide a positive culture of LGBTQ+ inclusion, underpinned by respect.”

A previous study by LGBTQ+ charity Just Like Us found that one in four LGBTQ+ young people would go back into the closet at work due to fears over how they would be perceived by colleagues.

Of the LGBTQ+ 18 to 25-year-olds polled for the survey, 19 per cent added that they had been bullied in the workplace, while the study also found that LGBTQ+ young people are paid less than their straight, cisgender peers on average. 

Amy Ashenden, interim CEO of Just Like Us, said: “Our research shows that the treatment of LGBT+ people in British society today is preventing young adults from thriving at work.

“LGBT+ young people deserve to safely be themselves at school, home and work – there must be no exceptions.”

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