Two thirds of lesbian and bisexual women experience discrimination at work, research finds

Three quarters of lesbian or bisexual women are also not out to colleagues at work

Siobhan Fenton@SiobhanFenton
Tuesday 19 July 2016 12:06
More than half of young people surveyed named 'being put on the spot' as a primary cause of work anxiety
More than half of young people surveyed named 'being put on the spot' as a primary cause of work anxiety

Two thirds of lesbian and bisexual women have experienced discrimination in the workplace, research has found.

The study, conducted by the British LGBT Awards, interviewed 1,200 lesbian and bisexual women in the UK to analyse their experiences at work. 64 per cent said that they had experienced some kind of negative treatment including sexual discrimination, inappropriate language, lack of opportunity or bullying at work.

73 per cent of the women who took part were not fully out to colleagues and 86 per cent said there is a need for more visible lesbian and bisexual women in senior professional roles to help boost visibility and provide role models for other women.

Previous research has shown that a ‘gay pay’ gap may exist in the workplace whereby lesbian women earn 9 per cent more than heterosexual women on average. It is thought this may be due to heterosexual women being more likely to take maternity leave and facing discrimination as a result, which lesbian women are less likely to encounter. Research on how bisexual women’s pay is affected by their sexuality is inconclusive.

Some studies have suggested bisexual women may be less likely to be employed than lesbian or heterosexual women, however, it is not known if this is due to bisexual women being younger on average and this thereby affects employment rate indirectly.

Sarah Garrett, British LGBT Awards founder, said that the results show that while progress has been made for LGBT equality in recent years, progress still needs to be made especially for LGBT women.

She said: “The results are startling and clearly show that in 2016 lesbian and gay women are still finding it hard to be themselves in the workplace and worse still, those who are out at work have had negative experiences including discrimination, bullying and reduced opportunities to progress compared to male counterparts.

“The findings are worrying and show that a lot of work remains to be done to change attitudes and promote acceptance.”

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