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C-suite and staff disagree about support for LGBT employees

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A recent report by the The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) entitled Pride and Prejudice: Agents of change found that many executives still perceive intolerance toward LGBT people inside their firms.

Of the over 1,000 professionals surveyed, 19% were aware of hidden LGBT discrimination at their company, 13% were aware of vocal or physical LGBT discrimination and 18% said there is a stigma in their company in being identified as an LGBT person.

Despite this, only 36% believed that LGBT people need a “leg up” in the business world.

However, with an open consensus around diversity improving bottom line, how can firms improve support for LGBT people in the workplace?

According to the report, young employees (27%) and the C-suite (24%) are the top two groups most likely to guide company thinking on LGBT diversity and inclusion.

Yet, only 16% chose the C-suite as the group most likely to support LGBT workplace diversity and inclusion, ranking this group a distant fourth place.

Furthermore, only 13% of junior workers – versus 33% of C-suite members – said broader company leadership is most eager to support LGBT workplace diversity and inclusion.

To make things worse, 16% of C-suite respondents and 40% of junior staff said they don’t know who guides company thinking on LGBT diversity and inclusion.

Thankfully, 37% of the next generation of leaders (Millennials) believe there is a potential ROI/business opportunity in enacting LGBT-friendly workplace policies and practices—eight points higher than average.

ALSO READ: Are workplaces really becoming more LGBT inclusive?

“It’s such an important time for the issue of LGBT diversity in the workplace, and we want to look at the survey results with an eye toward continuing the positive momentum that’s been achieved in the past few years,” says Michael Gold, EIU editor and author of the report.

“We believe it’s crucial to continue the conversation about what progress has been made, what progress can still be made—and how we can work together to help make it happen.”

Interestingly, by gender, women were found to show consistently higher support for LGBT causes than men. This might be partly be due to the fact that women are more able to empathise with the LGBT folks given that they are also under-represented in the workplace.

Almost seven in 10 women (69%) say corporate silence on LGBT inclusion is no longer acceptable, compared to 54% of men.

At the same time, women are also more likely than men to say they want to work for a company that is an advocate for LGBT diversity and inclusion (64% versus 54%).

75% of women believe companies must take a stand against government-supported policies that discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity, versus 63% of men.

READ MORE: 5 ideas to build an LGBT-friendly workplace in Singapore

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