In company boardrooms in Ireland, executive leaders such as ESB’s Pat O’Doherty, Sodexo's Margot Slattery, and IBM’s Peter O’Neill are discussing workplace equality and the benefits to business. They are committing their companies to being more lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) inclusive. Increasingly, employers see the value of investing in LGBT equality at work.
For business leaders in Ireland, two important questions are raised: Do LGBT people feel they can be out in my organisation? Am I confident that line management is equipped to support LGBT employees bring their whole selves to work?
There are approximately 170,000 LGBT people in the Irish workforce, but almost half are not 'out' at work. Executive leaders can play a significant role promoting more inclusive practices and culture in business.
We know that when LGBT people are out at work, it is more likely to be to their peers than to their line manager. And yet the relationship between line managers and employees is critical in managing, retaining and engaging employees. There is a significant cost to businesses where line managers are not communicating strong leadership messages and inspiring LGBT inclusion in the workplace. In Ireland one in four LGBT people have experienced bullying and harassment at work and one in 10 have missed work as a result.
The positive impact of an inclusive workplace is tangible for business and LGBT people alike. Surveys show that LGBT people who are out are more engaged and stay longer in organisations. The business case and benefits for employers to drive LGBT diversity and inclusion are clear:
- Enhancing employee performance
- Recruiting and retaining the best talent
- Building company reputation and winning new business
- Mitigating the risk of bullying and harassment
- Promoting corporate social responsibility
GLEN, the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network, works with a wide range of employers to ensuring that their equality and diversity initiatives include LGBT issues through their Diversity Champions Programme and network for employers. It supports employers to change the landscape of every workplace so that a person’s LGBT identity is no more or less important than any other aspect of identity amongst all employees.
This month, GLEN will launch Ireland’s Workplace Equality Index to allow employers benchmark their organisations on LGBT diversity and inclusion. To learn more about the event or how GLEN can support your organisation, visit www.diversitychampions.ie, or call us on 01 6728650.