The Economist publishes report on LGBT inclusion in the workplace

Charlotte Maxwell

Charlotte Maxwell is a Vada Magazine staff writer.

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A new study by The Economist has highlighted the importance of companies investing more money in LGBT inclusion. The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) published Pride and Prejudice: Attitudes and opinions toward LGBT inclusion in the workplace on 22 February 2016.

The vital report surveyed 1,000 business executives, aged 24-91, from more than 100 countries, and found that whilst there was a great amount of positivity about LGBT inclusion, there was a stark lack of enthusiasm to spend any money on it. Almost 90% of these executives felt that there would be a global benefit to LGBT inclusivity, yet only a third of these people felt that their company should spend money working towards this.

Within this group, just over half felt that more money should be spent including people with disabilities and around half felt more money should be spent on including women and including BAME people.

This reluctance to spend on LGBT inclusion was common among those surveyed, though those who were a little more willing to spend were from regions around the world, such as the Middle East, that have a poor track record for LGBT inclusion.

Moreover, the general reluctance to spend is not a reflection of firms with a strong inclusion ethic – less than 40% of those surveyed felt they had made progress in LGBT inclusion. Firms generally felt that had made greater progress in including women and ethnic minorities.

This raises the question of whether being ‘out’ at work would help raise the profile of LGBT issues in the workplace and draw more attention to the importance of inclusivity. Executives who were aware that they worked with an LGBT colleague felt that their firms had worked much harder to make progress in supporting their colleagues.

However, it is still the case that in areas with a high level of intolerance towards LGBT people, executives were less likely to share whether or not they had any LGBT colleagues. This highlights the need for a huge cultural shift in this area, in order to change attitudes to diversity.

60% of executives agreed with this notion, but also recognised that as individual businesses, it will be hard to change the current landscape of opinion. The study highlighted that there is strong support for businesses to be LGBT advocates and 50% of those surveyed said that they would like to work for a company that was an LGBT advocate.

Over 60% also felt that businesses should be doing more to help protect their LGBT employees, particularly in countries that have imposed anti-LGBT legislation.

Many of the executives felt that change needed to be made on a wide scale and that there is a lot of work to be done if wholly inclusive workplaces are to be created.

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