LGBT Women Most Disadvantaged In The Workplace: Study

LGBT Women Most Disadvantaged In The Workplace: Study
Image: Representative image. Photo by Janosch Lino on Unsplash

LGBTQI women in the UK on average, are the most unsatisfied group when it comes to conversations regarding their work environment, pay and career advancement.

According to a new report released by recruitment firm Robert Walters, LGBTQI+ women experience the most disadvantages in the workplace, with the cohort being the least likely of any sexual orientation to have opportunities made available to them (including exposure to projects and individuals).

The report titled, ‘Diversity And Inclusion Strategy Report A Focus On Disparities Within The Workplace’, surveyed 6000 professionals looking at “diversity and inclusion through the lenses of gender and sexuality”.

Key findings in the report included concerning issues around unequal treatment and feelings of disconnection by LGBTQI-identifying employees.

Alarming statistics concerning queer women in the workforce indicate that workplace discrimination, low pay and gender imbalances need to be fixed. In the UK, currently more than half of LGBTQI women  do not feel that they are being paid fairly and  one in five LGBTQI women are reported to be living ‘paycheque-to-paycheque’,

Heterosexual Employees More Likely To Get Promotion

LGBTQI professionals are reportedly less satisfied with their pay compared to their heterosexual counterparts, with 49% on average feeling like their pay is not an accurate reflection of the work that they do. Additionally, twice as many LGBTQI professionals cited a key barrier to negotiating for higher pay as due to their relationship with their manager when compared to their heterosexual colleagues.

On average, a heterosexual employee is 10% more likely to receive a promotion than an LGBTQI employee – despite reportedly “feeling on par with the understanding on what steps they need to take to get promoted”.

Around 50 per cent of women reported that they had never attempted to negotiate their pay. The report found that the 5 per cent decline over the past year when it came to women negotiating their pay could be a result of workplace shifts including the “perceived influence of job security, working relationships with managers and teams, mental well-being, and the sense of community in conversations”.

Decline In Well-Being

LGBTQI women had also experienced a decline in their well-being, with 75 per cent reporting that their mental health had suffered as a result of COVID-19.

As reported by DiversityQ, Director of Robert Walters, Lucy Bissett stated that though there had been improvements in some areas over the past three years since the research had been annually undertaken, there was more to be done, “we continue to see the presence of negative experiences of minority or marginalised groups in the workplace”.

“The dial has been pushed on gender pay transparency – but this report highlights a more concerning issue that for LGBTQI women, it appears to be much harder for them even to approach the idea of negotiating for a better salary or a promotion.”

“These differences cannot go on, and in light of Lesbian Visibility Week, I urge all employers to start diving deeper into the experiences of LGBTQI professionals in the workplace,” Bisset said.

Discrimination In The Workforce

LGBTQI women still experience discrimination in the workplace, with the implementation of workplace inclusion interventions remaining the most under-developed area.

A quarter of LGBTQI women have experienced discrimination in the workplace because of their sexual orientation, in comparison to a tenth of straight or LGBTQi+ men.

The Robert Walters report listed several recommendations for workplaces when it came to employee inclusion, with the goal of shifting expectations around equity, diversity, and inclusion (“EDI”).

Some recommendations included, identifying bias in systems and processes, equipping leaders to talk about ED, prioritising  everyday inclusion and making a commitment to fair pay


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