As Trade Unionists we understand that being treated fairly in work is crucial, but as a member of the LGBTQ+ community that has not always been guaranteed. Workplaces haven’t always been a place where our safety is guaranteed. Whilst law, society and public opinions have changed for the better for a lot for LGBTQ+ people, there are still too many places where hatred hides in plain sight.
For our trans colleagues especially, the likelihood of even being able to work is lower and the chance of being discriminated against, or experiencing hate speech at work, in public or online is much higher. We want to see improvements in how LGBTQ+ people access healthcare, housing, education, workplaces and community spaces in safety. We want to make sure that our human rights record in Wales shows us to be a safe, welcoming, and inclusive place to live and work. Everyone should be allowed to be their true selves, and we all should be able to live in safety in communities that strive for the best for all its members.
As a Trade Union movement, we have spoken to government, participated in the LGBTQ+ consultations, we’ve informed policies, we have made many changes and plans. But we know that the changes we want, can only happen with hard work and dedication of Trade Union members. I look forward to working with you to make the changes that are still needed to give us the safest, most inclusive workplaces in the world.
Phil Jones, Chair of Wales TUC LGBTQ+ forum
The Equality Act 2010 is a law that is supposed to protect workers from unfair treatment due to age, sex, race, sexual orientation, gender identity and a number of other characteristics. Employers can also combat discrimination by establishing strong equal opportunities policies and practices.
We recognise that sexuality and gender expression can be fluid and can change over a lifetime, or in different environments with different groups of people. We also recognise that many people will chose to define their own identity in terms that suit them best. We support this strongly, but we also feel that many people have found strength in the collective umbrella term of LGBTQ+ and we would like to support this. However, despite our aim of being as inclusive as possible, we also recognise that some people will not find their identity immediately apparent in this this acronym. We have decided to use this acronym so that we use the same terminology that the Welsh Government uses. We hope that by doing this, we will ensure the most widely understood terminology
As the Welsh Government looks to deliver the LGBTQ+ Action Plan, trade unions are at the forefront of making sure that workplaces deliver decent quality, fair work for Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans, and Queer workers. This means good, safe workplaces, where:
Gender stereotypes can be harmful for all workers. Many work sectors such as education, health, construction, and catering can often have a very gendered workforce, which makes it less welcoming for people of other genders to join. By incorporating gender neutral or additive language, it makes workplaces more inclusive to all workers, patients and clients.
By allowing workers to express their pronouns, it makes it an easier conversation for trans and non binary workers to express their pronouns.
Some languages may not have an established gender-neutral pronoun. In this case, you can simply ask the person how they would like to be referred to. Words used as gender neutral pronouns may exist, but not be common in usage. For example, some Welsh speakers may use the word ‘nhw’ as a gender-neutral pronoun. Seek to educate yourself on the language of the communities you are working with.
Cited from A beginner’s guide to pronouns and using pronouns in the workplace, by Stonewall
If anyone feels they are being targeted in the workplace because of any protected characteristic, then this can be considered as unlawful harassment.
Trans people’s experiences are diverse. However, many trans, intersex and gender non-conforming people report persistent transphobia, negative treatment, and aggression whilst in or searching for work.
Workplaces need to take preventative action to stop transphobia being allowed to take place. This means taking positive action within the workplace to help create a welcoming and inclusive culture whether you have any identified trans staff or not. This can include creating a culture which allows LGBTQ+ people in your organisation to tell you what can be improved on. It’s crucial that if you receive reports of transphobia such as harassment, discrimination or unfair treatment towards a trans worker, that you act quickly to resolve it.
Workplace policies are useful to have to support workers and they can make a huge contribution to cultural changes that need to happen to make work fairer. If your workplace is developing new policies then it should be discussed with workers, and it should be revisited periodically to ensure that it still suits the needs of workers. For workplace policies that particularly affect different groups of workers, such as LGBTQ+ workers, it is important that their voice is central to what is in the workplace policy, and they have many opportunities to contribute.
Progression may be an issue within your workplace for LGBTQ+ people. We all arrive at work as complex human beings with different issues that we face in life. LGBTQ+ people are more likely to face hatred in the forms of transphobia, homophobia, biphobia or other forms of hatred and discrimination. This can impact on work, and it could mean that they require extra support. Training and creating opportunities for progression can be hugely helpful and create a more understanding and progressive workplace.
Small changes can make a big difference. At the TUC we believe that the UK Government should introduce a statutory requirement for large employers to report on their LGBTQ+ pay gap – in the same way they do their gender pay gaps – with action plans detailing how bosses will address those inequalities. We can all play our part in negotiating a better and more inclusive workplace for LGBTQ+ people.
The TUC believes that a step change in how we support LGBTQ+ people at work is long overdue. We all deserve respect at work, whatever our sexual orientation or gender identity. But, while LGBTQ+ communities have seen lots of positive change in recent years, too many still don’t feel safe and comfortable at work.
LGBTQ+ workers have the same rights and protections as everyone else and shouldn’t face discrimination or harassment.
It’s not good enough for bosses to dismiss homophobia or transphobia as “workplace banter”. That defence has been tested in employment tribunals, and it failed.
Usually if a person genuinely feels they are being singled out for unfair treatment by a boss or colleague they are probably being bullied, and there is certainly an issue that needs to be addressed. Although there is no comprehensive list of bullying behaviours, and there is no one type of person who is likely to be a bully, the list below should give an idea of some of the behaviours which constitute workplace bullying.
Bullying behaviour can include any of the following behaviours, as well as others not listed below:
Bullying does not have to be face to face and can include “cyber-bullying” which includes information being spread through email or social media or on internet forums.
There are a number of positive steps that union representatives can take to raise awareness and tackle bullying in the workplace.
Workplace affinity groups can be a great place for people with a shared identity to find support, solidarity and friendship. They
can help to find out how workers are treated within the organisation and if they are dealing with any workplace issues.
Any workplace affinity group needs to be supported by Trade Unions otherwise it can quickly become a space where problems are highlighted but nobody has the power to improve conditions, leaving workers in precarious positions with no meaningful help or support.
Step 1: Talking to the workers who have been affected by discrimination
Step 2: Create a course of action before approaching management
Step 3: Start thinking about viable solutions and how you can gain support from the majority of your union members.
For instance, would a workplace campaign be the most effective way to raise awareness of the issue?
Step 4: Think about how management might respond. Consider the potential outcomes and how this determines the next actions your group would need to take.
Step 5: Clarify the exact objectives you are hoping to achieve.
You should have this ready before you approach management. When approaching management, it is also particularly important that the voices of LGBTQ+ workers are represented. And of course, you need to ensure that any agreement you reach with your employer benefits all union members equally
Many workplaces will outwardly celebrate LGBTQ+ History Month without taking actions to support their own workers. This is not acceptable and workplaces which are only taking performative actions without improving the culture and conditions for workers, need to be called out. Work with your employer to make sure that they don’t just pay lip service and that they follow up any celebrations with meaningful action for the benefit of LGBTQ+ people.
Your actions are important, and they rely on having a well organised workplace. Ensure that your union is taking steps to see LGBTQ+ people represented at every level.