Almost ten per cent of lesbian, gay, and bisexual workers in regional Australia have reported experiencing casual homophobia in the workplace, and almost 12 per cent have been bullied, according to a new study.

The 2018 Australian Workplace Equality Index (AWEI) Employee Survey was conducted by Pride in Diversity, ACON’s not-for-profit support program for LGBTI workplace inclusion.

This year, more than 23,000 surveys were completed by employees working at 89 different organisations. Of the respondents, 3,709 identified as LGBTI.

“LGBTI employees want diverse workplaces where they feel included and supported – it isn’t only a moral imperative, it’s also just good business,” Chief Executive of ACON, Nicolas Parkhill, said.

“Fear of abuse or discrimination forces many LGBTI people to hide their sexual orientation or gender identity when they access health and well being services, in many cases leading to an increase in anxiety or depression.

“The work Pride in Diversity does in helping businesses as well as employees create more diverse and productive workplaces, is making real and substantial cultural change within Australian workplaces.”

The survey found that one in ten non-LGBTI employees believed LGBTI inclusion at work was no longer necessary following marriage equality, with only 73 per cent agreeing that it was.

Comparatively, a major 91 per cent of LGBTI respondents indicated that there was still much to be done in supporting inclusion and diversity at work.

More than 13 per cent of gender diverse employees said they experienced ‘very high’ or ‘high’ levels of anxiety during the recruitment process.

And while 60 per cent of gay men felt that inclusion initiatives had a positive impact on how they felt about their sexual identity, only 52 per cent of lesbians felt the same way.

“Even with some recent successes in achieving LGBTI rights, there is still a tremendous amount of work to do,” Director of ACON’s Pride Inclusion Programs, Dawn Hough, said.

“It is important that in all aspects of Australian working life we have businesses comprising of leaders, advocates, and allies who know the importance of LGBTI inclusion.”

The full results of the 2018 AWEI Employee Survey can be found here.

Related story: ‘Only 32 per cent of LGBTI people are out to everyone at work: study’

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