Australian workplace diversity advocates are concerned about a US study showing LGBT employees do not feel comfortable disclosing their sexual orientation at work.

In a survey of almost 3000 LGBT employees conducted by the Center for Work-Life Policy, 48 percent of respondents reported being closeted at work, with this having substantial negative consequences on the business.

Diversity Council Australia (DCA) CEO Nareen Young said she fears LGBT employees in Australia are likely to suffer similar experiences at work to those highlighted in the US study, and urged employers to do more to help these employees feel more comfortable to be themselves at work.

“No one should have to hide who they really are at work for fear of being judged, harassed or excluded. In this day and age, there’s no excuse for homophobic behaviour,” she said.

Young said DCA had undertaken its own research related to LGBT employees in Australia which found 16 percent of gay men and lesbians saying they had been discriminated against at work on the basis of their sexual orientation.

“This is a high figure compared to the percentage of respondents overall who felt they had been discriminated against in the past year,” she said.

“These people were also more likely to strongly disagree or disagree that, in their job, people treat each other with respect, and less likely to indicate people are chosen for jobs on the basis of their competency.”

In 2010, DCA partnered with ACON and Stonewall UK to establish the Pride In Diversity program designed to assist Australian employers introduce human resources and diversity policies that specifically support LGBT employees.

“There’s much to be gained in terms of reputation, recruitment, retention, productivity and market share from ensuring your workplace is welcoming and inclusive of LGBT employees,” Young said.

“Progressive employers recognise they need to draw on talent from all sections of the population and create a workforce culture that embraces diversity.”

INFO: www.prideindiversity.com.au

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