UK workplaces letting down LGBTQi+ women

Report from Robert Walters shows how LGBTQ+ women still not being ‘seen’ in the workplace.

LGBTQi+ women are on average the most unsatisfied group when it comes to discussions around pay, progression and the workplace compared to any other sexuality.

A report of 6,000 professionals – from recruitment firm Robert Walters – reveals how LGBTQ+ women are the most likely cohort to be living ‘paycheque-to-paycheque’ (18 per cent), are 10 per cent less likely to be promoted than their male LGBTQi+ counterparts, and lack the most confidence in the workplace when it comes to asking for pay rises or promotions.

“We have been carrying out this research annually for three years now, and whilst there are some improvements to be celebrated – we continue to see the presence of negative experiences of minority or marginalised groups in the workplace,” says Lucy Bisset – director of Robert Walters. “The dial has been pushed on gender pay transparency – but this report highlights a more concerning issue that for LGBTQi+ women, it appears to be much harder for them to even approach the idea of negotiating for a better salary or a promotion.

“These differences cannot go on, and in light of Lesbian Visibility Week [this week] I urge all employers to start diving deeper into the experiences of LGBTQi+ professionals in the workplace.”

55 per cent of women who identify as LGBTQi+ state that their pay is not a fair representation of the work they do – over 10 per cent more than LGBTQi+ men (43 per cent) and heterosexual men (42 per cent). When analysing salaries, more than double the number of straight (30 per cent) and LGBTQ+ men (26 per cent) earn above £55k according to the Robert Walters report – compared to just 11 per cent of LGBTQi+ women who are in this salary bracket.

When comparing professional’s pay against cost-of-living the widening gap is more dramatic for LGBTQi+ women. Almost 1 in 5 state they are living ’paycheque-to-paycheque’ (18 per cent) – more than any other sexual orientation (heterosexual female -16 per cent, LGBTQ+ male -12 per cent, and heterosexual male – 11 per cent).

A third of LGBTQi+ women state that they have ‘some’ disposable income but must live sensibly to cover the cost of living, whilst a tenth (9.33 per cent) admit to relying on additional forms of support & income to get by – including credit cards, pay-day loans, or side/weekend jobs.

When reviewing benefits, just 17 per cent of LGBTQi+ women report benefiting from a bonus scheme with their employer – compared to 20 per cent of heterosexual women, 26 per cent of LGBTQi+ men, and 30 per cent of heterosexual men (almost double).

53 per cent of LGBTQi+ women reported to having not negotiated for better pay either when joining or during their time at their current employer – with a quarter citing lacking confidence or feeling embarrassed as the primary reason for not negotiating for higher pay, the highest of any sexual orientation (20 per cent heterosexual women, 17 per cent of LGBTQ+ men, and 14 per cent of heterosexual men reported confidence as the primary reason for not negotiating pay).

When asked about the main challenges they face in their career, LGBTQi+ women stated; a lack of opportunities (28 per cent), training and development offered to them (25 per cent), as well as a lack of diversity in management or senior positions (14 per cent) as the primary factors holding them back.

Yet again LGBTQi+ women cite confidence as a barrier for them – this time 25 per cent stating that they do not have the confidence to brag about their own wins or hard work, vs just 16 per cent of heterosexual men who said the same.
A quarter of LGBTQi+ women (23 per cent) state that they are ‘not at all aware’ of what they need to do to receive a promotion – with a further 17 per cent stating that they need support from management to improve their understanding.

Lucy Bisset adds: “There is a clear call from this report – leaders of an organisation need to do more to help eradicate conscious and unconscious bias at line manager level so that LGBTQi+ women are given fair access to new opportunities or projects, training & support feels accessible and tailored, and communication lines are improved so that confidence in conversations around pay & progression improves for LGBTQi+ women.”

Coral Bamgboye – Head of Equity, Diversity & Inclusion at Robert Walters Group, comments: “It would be amiss of me to not admit that we ourselves at Robert Walters are on our own journey of improving everything surround equality, diversity & inclusion.

“Much like ourselves and the setting up of multiple D&I councils and working-groups around the world, our goal is to first hear what our LGBTQi+ professionals have to say and to get them involved in the solution,” she says. “Hesitation or fear on this matter from employers won’t serve to shift the dial on some of the shocking statistics featured in this report.”

Statistics used were provided from Robert Walters annual report on Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace, surveying 6,000 professionals across the UK and Ireland – 1,000 of the respondents identified as LGBTQ+.

Click here to download the Robert Walters: Diversity & Inclusion Strategy Report – A Focus on Gender & LGBTQi+ Equality.

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