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Three-quarters of gay and bisexual women don’t come out at work

Three-quarters of gay and bisexual women don’t come out at work

British LGBT Awards says bisexual role models, such as Inga Beale, are rare in the workplace

Almost three-quarters (73%) of lesbian and bisexual women are not completely out to their work colleagues.

That’s one of the main results revealed by a survey undertaken by the organizers of the annual British LGBT Awards. They instigated the survey after receiving a lack of nominations of female candidates in the corporate categories of their awards – which celebrate role models and LGBT advocates.

Between May and June, they conducted an online survey of 1,241 women. Other key findings include:

  • Two-thirds (64%) said they had experienced some form of negative experience (including sexual discrimination, inappropriate language, lack of opportunity or bullying at work).
  • 64% felt it was harder for lesbian and bi-sexual women compared to male counterparts.
  • 74% thought bisexual women had more difficult challenges than other areas.
  • 85.66% of respondents said it would help if there were more visible lesbian and bi-sexual women in senior roles.

The finding that so many women choose to remain in the closet is similar to a survey finding released last month by Pride London that 74% of LGBT people choose not to discuss their private life in public.

Commenting of the survey results, Sarah Garrett, founder of the British LGBT Awards, said: ‘This survey was commissioned in response to the very low number of women being nominated for awards ahead of this years British LGBT Awards.

‘The results are startling and clearly show that in 2016 lesbian and gay women are still finding it hard to be themselves in the workplace and worse still, those who are out at work have had negative experiences including discrimination, bullying and reduced opportunities to progress compared to male counterparts.

‘The findings are worrying and show that a lot of work remains to be done to change attitudes and promote acceptance. The British LGBT Awards will now be campaigning to increase the visibility of lesbian and bisexual women.’

Earlier this year, Inga Beale, CEO of Lloyds of London, became the first woman to top the OUTstanding in Business top 100 list of LGBT Executives. As a bisexual woman, she remains a rare role model in the corporate world.

Daisy Reeves, Finance partner at international law firm, Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP and an ambassador, who backed the commissioning of the survey said, ‘The results speak for themselves – a significantly higher proportion of gay and bi women feel additional obstacles to being “out” at work compared to their male counterparts.

‘Yet evidence, unsurprisingly, demonstrates that LGBT individuals are far happier and more productive in the workplace when they can be authentic.’

Suran Dickson, CEO of the charity Diversity Role Models told GSN,‘Sadly, the results of this survey are not surprising.

‘Women already face barriers around progression, pay and family responsibilities in the workplace, before they reveal their sexuality and potentially face new or reinforced barriers. The double glazed glass ceiling affects many people who sit at the crossroads of intersectionality; we need robust Inclusion and Diversity programmes that increase empathy, overcome unconscious bias and role model inclusive behaviour from the top in order to smash that ceiling.

‘But ultimately, we will only see significant change by challenging stereotypes around gender and sexuality in schools so the next generation of lesbian and bisexual women can enter the workforce without prejudice or barriers.’

Prompted by the results, Garrett says that the British LGBT Awards is to launch a campaign to increase visibility of lesbian and bi sexual role models.