What can employers take away from the ‘Out & Proud’ research survey?
Monday, October 21, 2019

 

4,139 18-25-YEAR-OLDS AT UNIVERSITY AND IN THE WORKPLACE REACHED.

122 universities and 30 areas of study covered.

The largest study of its kind ever carried out.

With hate crimes against LGBTQ+ people increasing (including in the workplace) and LGBTQ+-inclusive sex education being protested against, questions of how far we have really come as a society when it comes to LGBTQ+ rights in education and employment still remain.

Consequently, Clifford Chance partnered with National Student Pride, the University of York and Deutsche Bank to commission Trendence to provide ground-breaking bespoke research into this issue. In the largest study of its kind, 4,139 young people at university and in the workplace were reached in carrying out Trendence UK and Ireland’s LGBTQ+ survey across 122 universities and 30 areas of study. But what has it taught employers that we didn’t already know?

Here are a few of the key recommendations for employers:

Run inclusion campaigns to increase LGBTQ+ visibility with current and prospective students

LGBTQ+ students appreciate the diversity and inclusion campaigns employers run, as well as being aware of the networks available to them. However, it’s clear that they do not want to be given opportunities simply to fill quotas. You need to strike a balance and this primarily rests on the language you use.

Students also point out that LGBTQ+ events are not always diverse as the focus is often on white gay men and less attention is paid to other communities of LGBTQ+ students – such as those who are bisexual and transgender, BAME students and gay women. Our survey shows that students want an entirely inclusive and diverse focus from employers:

One in two of all young people in the survey felt that an inclusive and diverse environment in the workplace was ‘important’. Moreover, more LGBTQ+ students felt it was ‘very important’ (22%), more than non-LGBTQ+ (15%)’2

Explain reasons for collecting sensitive information in applications & data protection

Employers are increasingly looking to collect sensitive information, such as sexuality, religious beliefs and disability to improve diversity and better support their employees. However, employers are more likely to gain a higher number of responses if they are very explicit about why sensitive information is collected and how it is going to be used, highlighting that it is not collected to fill quotas, nor is anyone going to be singled out on this basis.

Many LGBTQ+ people decide not to reveal their sexuality: only 38% of LGBTQ+ students at university and 42% in the workplace say their sexuality is known by their peers as compared to 93% and 80% of non-LGBTQ+ people respectively. With this in mind, asking LGBTQ+ applicants to disclose information about their sexuality without informing them why it’s being collected could make some candidates feel uneasy.

Being explicit about why you are seeking information will mean candidates are more likely to share this information, which will allow you to strengthen diversity and create a better employment experience.

Create safe spaces

It’s increasingly expected by many that employers provide physical spaces where LGBTQ+ employees can come together and discuss shared experiences, much like with internal support networks. Naturally, this feeds into the company culture, creating an environment where trust is built, judgement is removed, and dialogue is promoted.

By showing that you’re an employer that encourages and supports diversity in many forms, LGBTQ+ employees might be less likely to worry about facing ignorance, discrimination and prejudice in the workplace. Creating groups or networks for BAME, LGBTQ+, women’s and disabled groups should help to demonstrate your commitment to ensuring everyone is supported and accepted.

After all, our survey shows that valuing inclusivity can have a positive impact on wellbeing: LGBTQ+ students who placed an importance on inclusivity were nearly two times more likely to report an improved wellbeing since starting university than those who didn’t place importance on inclusivity.

To view the remaining three key points we found and see the survey results in full, along with our analysis, click here.

 

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