Be an ally

Be an LGBT+ Ally in the Workplace & Beyond

19 January 2023

Discrimination comes in many forms, and it's often unintentional. Education is essential. Support is vital. Read on to discover the importance of being an ally in the workplace and beyond and how you can create an inclusive, welcoming, and safe workplace for all.

Discrimination in the workplace


Stonewall, a charity that supports 'lesbian, gay, bi, trans, queer, questioning and ace (LGBTQ+) people everywhere’, conducted research alongside YouGov to create the LGBT In Britain: Work Report.


The 2018 research shared some troubling statistics about discrimination in the workplace, and here are just a few:


One in eight trans people (12%) have been physically attacked by customers or colleagues in the last year because of being trans.


  • More than a third of LGBT staff (35%) have hidden or disguised that they are LGBT at work in the last year because they were afraid of discrimination.

  • One in eight black, Asian and minority ethnic LGBT employees (12%) have lost a job in the last year because of being LGBT, compared to 4% of white LGBT staff.

  • These three statistics cement the importance of the work of charities like Stonewall and the reason LGBT+ History Month remains essential.


Let’s summarise what these statistics tell us:


  • There’s an increased threat of being a victim of violence in the workplace.

  • Many people cannot be their authentic selves for fear of facing discrimination.

  • Being part of a minority ethnicity increases the chances of discrimination.


The importance of education


The snapshot we’ve provided from the report is argument enough for the need for education since discrimination is often born from a lack of knowledge and not always from something worse.


People can learn, and many are eager to do so, and through knowledge sharing, they can change their behaviours and perspectives. Employers must encourage this learning by providing resources and leading by example to establish a culture of equality and inclusion.


The learning never stops.


New terms and identities coming into the space, she also needs to adapt and embrace new terminology in an ever-changing community.


Why allies are essential


McKinsey & Co produced research in 2020 on the issues faced by the LGBTQ+ community in the workplace, and the recurring theme of the report is isolation and the concept of being an ‘only.’


The term ‘onliness’ comes from statistics that suggest there are times when an individual could be the only one in a room of a certain gender, race, or orientation. Sometimes, every employee could find themselves being an ‘only’ in a meeting or gathering but then become a ‘many’ when interacting with the wider business.


However, if you find yourself being an ‘only’ within a company of 250 employees, it will impact your sense of vulnerability and isolation.  


What makes someone an ally?


An ally is someone who will “call out” bad behaviour in their colleagues, whether that's intentional discrimination or the unintentional use of inappropriate language. A workplace ally will speak up for their LGBT+ colleagues and strive to educate others, doing what they can to create a safe and inclusive environment.


How you can make a difference


If you’re an employer, manager, or HR professional, you automatically fall under the role of ally due to your responsibility to lead by example and your duty of care for the people within your business.


We are all on a DE&I journey because the learning never ends – even here at Pluxee UK.


Your business is on the right path if the drive to educate, grow, and become an inclusive and diverse employer exists. Next, take steps to bring about positive change by reviewing what needs to improve and creating a plan of action.


A great place to start is by learning how the businesses that are getting inclusivity right are doing it. Take Citi, for example, who was recently recognised by Stonewall for their LGBTQ+ inclusion initiatives.


Review your policies


Before you begin to work on culture and education, it’s essential to review your organisational policies, particularly those around parental leave to ensure they include LGBTQ+ employees and the different family dynamics.


Respect boundaries


Whilst it’s natural for an employer to want to learn about the people they employ and for colleagues to engage with one another, nobody should be forced to reveal more than they want to about themselves. An LGBT+ employee is not obligated to share information about themselves if they do not want to, 


Don’t ask someone a question if it’s something you wouldn’t want to be asked yourself.


Think mental wellbeing...


We’ve steered away from talking about our Pluxee UK products during this article. However, we have identified that LGBT+ employees face higher levels of fear and isolation, and Mind also states that those within the community are at a higher risk of depression.


As an employer, you can provide your people access to BCAP-accredited counsellors, 24 hours a day, every day of the year, via phone, email, or app. With an Employee Assistance Programme, even your most vulnerable employees will always have a safe space and a place to turn for help whenever needed.


To find out more about protecting the wellbeing of your people, contact one of our friendly experts today.