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Supporting LGBT mental health at work

Supporting LGBT mental health at work

Health Assured, the UK and Ireland's largest independent and award-winning employee assistance programme provider, share their advice on how to support and promote LGBT mental health in the workplace.

Research carried out by Anglia Ruskin University has found that gay and lesbian jobseekers are 5% less likely to be offered a job interview than heterosexual applicants with comparable skills and experience.

As an employer, you have a duty of care towards your workforce, and supporting their health and wellbeing is a significant part of that.

This is particularly important for employees who a part of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community, as evidence suggests that mental health problems, discrimination and suicide rates are much higher within these communities. 

In acknowledgement of Pride Month this June, we will explore the reasons why it’s vital that employers put in measures to support the wellbeing of their LGBT team members.

Benefits to your organisation

Whether you currently have LGBT-supportive policies in place, or are looking to introduce some into your current wellbeing strategy, the most important aspect should always be the wellbeing of your people. 

There are numerous advantages for organisations who embrace LGBT policies, for both its people and the organisation itself. Here, we have listed several:

  • Positive work environment - By putting LGBT-supportive policies in place, you will be sending the signal to your team – as well as potential employees – that you operate in a positive and diverse climate, promoting fairness among all employees. When employees feel that their work environment is more inclusive, fairer and supportive, they tend to be happier, healthier and more productive.

  • Performance of organisation - Research from Swiss bank Credit Suisee found that companies who are LGBT friendly by either employing openly LGBT management, having employees who are part of local LGBT networks or voted as being among leading LGBT companies, tend to outperform their competitors.

What can employers do?

Over the past decade, organisations have made positive steps in supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees and creating an inclusive workplace. However, according to the latest figures from Stonewall, more than a third of LGBT staff still hide that they are LGBT at work for fear of discrimination.

Clearly, there is more to be done by employers to help cultivate a greater sense of inclusion and acceptance for LGBT team members in the workplace. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Education & diversity training - Ensure that you clearly communicate your inclusion policies and strategies for supporting LGBT employees through diversity training and educational seminars.

  • Build a support network - For example, in an effort to support LGBT people at work, Barclays established ‘Barclays Spectrum’ - an internal network of colleagues who challenge homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in the workplace.

  • Gender-neutral language - Gender-neutral language avoids bias towards a particular gender. Using ‘they’ instead of ‘he/she’ around the workplace is a step in the right direction.

  • Support the local LGBT community - Look for sponsorship opportunities at local LGBT events such as LGBT History Month and National Coming Out Day. Or why not use Pride as a springboard to join the Stonewall inclusive workplace programme or start organising regular fundraising or volunteer opportunities for your team members?

If you would like to find out more information on any of the topics mentioned in this article, please contact Health Assured on: 0844 892 2493 (UK) or 01 886 0324 (ROI). 

Thank you to Health Assured for giving us permission to reproduce this article which was originally published on their website.

Health Assured is the UK and Ireland's largest independent and award-winning employee assistance programme (EAP) provider. Find out more here.