Lgbt workforce monitoring

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DO list trans as trans

Questions on gender identity should always be in their own section. Different trans people describe themselves differently and language is evolving in this area. Whatever terms you use, it is a good idea to include a jargon buster.

Trans groups recommend questions such as:

 Is your gender identity the same as the gender you were assigned at birth?

􀂅 yes 􀂅 no 􀂅 prefer not to select


 Do you identify as trans/transgender or have a trans history?

􀂅 yes 􀂅 no 􀂅 prefer not to select


 Do you feel able to discuss your gender identity/gender history with colleagues at work?

􀂅 yes 􀂅 no 􀂅 with some people, but not all

What if people object during the consultation?

Listen to what different groups of people are saying. If most LGB or trans people are opposed, this suggests that the organisation is not ready. More work is needed to make equality policies effective and raise levels of confidence.

If non-LGBT people object, find out what their objections are and see if these can be answered by clear information on the purpose and practice.

Don’t be surprised if there are a fair smattering of ‘spoiled’ forms or even forms with abusive comments on them. This provides evidence of the need to address prejudice in the workplace.

How should results be interpreted?

Government actuaries have estimated that 6% of the working population are in same sex relationships. But we do not know how this varies in different parts of the UK. For trans workers, the numbers are much smaller and in some workforces may have no statistical significance.

Check for any obvious errors in the results. Very high numbers of workers identifying as transgender may mean that people have misunderstood the question.

Confidential monitoring may show that 6% of the workforce identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual, but this is not necessarily evidence of an LGB friendly workplace. It could still be that nobody feels safe enough to be out about their sexual orientation at work. This is why a question on whether LGB people are out at work is useful.

The experiences of lesbian, gay or bisexual workers and of trans people may be very different, so it is important to look at each group separately. If possible, it is also useful to check whether there are other differences, say between women and men, Black and white LGBT workers, and so on.

How people identify may change, so monitoring once, say on starting employment, will not necessarily give an accurate picture over time.

Low rates of return at the introduction of monitoring are quite likely. If these do not improve, this suggests a problem with the equality policy and its implementation.

What else can be monitored?

Remember that individual people’s sexual orientation or gender identity/gender history is not the only thing - or the most important thing - to monitor to check progress on LGB and trans equality. Other matters that can and should be monitored include:

  • Progress against LGBT action plans

  • Take up and outcomes of grievance and harassment procedures

  • Contents of and feedback from equality training

  • Staff and client attitudes

  • Information from exit interviews

  • Take up of family benefits

  • Language used in internal and external communications

  • Internal and external image of the organisation

Negotiating and organising around monitoring

A move by employers to introduce LGBT monitoring can provide an excellent opportunity to negotiate improved policies and practices on the whole range of issues affecting LGBT workers. Check the UNISON bargaining factsheets for negotiating checklists.

It is also an opportunity to organise LGBT members, contacting them for their views. Put LGBT members in touch with regional and national LGBT activities and publications and sow the seeds for a branch LGBT group if there is not one already.

Checklist for LGBT monitoring

The following should all be in place before LGBT monitoring is introduced:

  • Well publicised policies on LGBT equality

  • An action plan to implement the equality policies, with built in review mechanisms

  • Clear explanation of the purpose of the monitoring, including how data will be interpreted and how it will be used to further equality

  • An understanding of the differences between sexual orientation and gender identity and a clear rational on whether monitoring one or both

  • A robust strategy to guarantee the confidentiality of people’s answers, including who will receive data – one central point – and how it will be processed, stored and reported

  • The confidentiality strategy tested by mapping the flow of information from start to finish, to check there is no unnecessary access to data

  • Questions about sexual orientation and gender history not simply added to pre-existing monitoring forms without careful planning

  • Proper consultation with the workforce and the unions, including those most directly affected – LGB and trans workers

  • Clear leadership from the top of the organisation, training for managers and briefings for staff.

Explanation of trans terms

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