Campaigning for LGBT equality in the workplace
On the face of it acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people has never been greater. The passing of legislation ensuring legal parity in marriage for lesbian and gay couples is an important cornerstone which trade unionists and LGBT groups and others have been campaigning towards. Wider equalities legislation makes it illegal for a person to be unlawfully discriminated on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity.
However, the fight for equality is far from over.
Homophobia and transphobia remains a scourge, both hidden and explicit. Who can forget the poisonous piece by Richard Littlejohn in the Daily Mail about Lucy Meadows, the trans woman and NUT member. In his article he stated that it was “selfish” for Meadows to return to the same school. After her death, the coron
er said the media should be ashamed of themselves for the way they had hounded Meadows.
In the workplace LGBT people may experience oppression and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. It is critical that trade union reps and negotiators have the tools to bargain for LGBT inclusion in the workplace.
Current assessment criteria which cover LGBT equality in the workplace, such as the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index, are useful indicators and have been important in shaping the debate, but they don’t always encompass the full range of issues that unions might want to consider.
This new guidance is a basis for unions to negotiate for LGBT equality in the workplace. The guide convers:
- Comprehensive and good equality policies for all areas including advertising and recruitment, access to training, career progression, grievance and disciplinary procedures, equal access to workplace benefits, equal application of discretionary workplace policies.
- Employment and pensions.
- Strong emphasis needs to be given to training of all managers in recognising and dealing effectively with workplace bullying and harassment on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.
- It is good practice to negotiate equality (as all other workplace) policies with recognised independent trade unions.
- Employers serious about making their equality policies as effective as possible should agree to adopt the steps spelt out in the public sector equality duty of the Equality Act 2010 in their originally intended form.
This guide on LGBT equality in the workplace is a tool for trade unions to negotiate with employers. Trade unions must continue to push for policies and structures to address the prejudice and oppression LGBT people face this and be at the forefront for campaigning for equality and dignity for all.