It’s that time of year again! May 17 marks the date for IDAHOBIT Day – that’s International Day Against LGBTQIA+ Discrimination – and it’s the perfect time to discuss important issues surrounding diversity and the importance of creating an inclusive workplace for all.
The theme for this year is Our Bodies, Our Lives, Our Rights, and that’s the perfect opportunity to have a serious conversation about rights in the workplace and what you can do as a business owner or manager to foster an inclusive, welcoming environment – as well as what rights employees have with regard to diversity.
But first, we’ll take a look at important facts and figures about homophobia and gender identity discrimination in the workplace and why the values a company projects directly impact its success.
Quick Facts About IDAHOBIT Day
We’ve marked IDAHOBIT Day here at Envato for several years now, but for those who don’t know, here are a few key facts about this important day:
- IDAHOBIT got its official start in 2004 as IDAHO – International Day Against Homophobia – and the name was later amended to include transphobia and biphobia in the acronym as well.
- The event occurs on May 17 each year, but this wasn’t just a date picked from the ether. It actually commemorates the date the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems in 1990. It was the date WHO recognized being gay wasn’t a mental disorder or disease.
According to May17.org, IDAHOBIT Day was created to:
“…draw the attention to the violence and discrimination experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex people and all other people with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities or expressions, and sex characteristics.”
A Look at Homophobia in the Workplace in 2022
Now that you've got an understanding of what IDAHOBIT Day is all about, we can turn our attention to the reason for its existence – raising awareness about bias and answering questions about what homophobia is and how that exists in the workplace. Here are some notable facts:
- As of 2021, 7.1% of Americans identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or something else other than heterosexual, according to Gallop. This number has been on a steady rise since the data first began to be collected in 2012 when the percentage sat at 3.5%.
- A similar uptick is seen in the U.K, 2.7% of British people over the age of 16 identified as gay, lesbian, or bisexual as of 2019 (but the data wasn’t reported until 2021), according to the U.K. Census. This represents an increase from the 2.2% who identified as such in 2018.
And though people are becoming increasingly comfortable with self-identifying as homosexual or transgender, the real, lived experience of discrimination is still prevalent.
- According to a report compiled by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, 21% of LGBTQ identifying Europeans reported experiencing workplace discrimination as of 2019 and that number rises to 36% when looking at just those who are transgender or nonbinary. Likewise, 11% of job applicants in the EU report experiencing discrimination during the job search itself.
- Similar issues are reported in the United States, with 36% of LGBTQ people reporting that they’ve experienced some kind of workplace discrimination as of 2020, according to a national public opinion study conducted by The Center for American Progress.
- The numbers get more dire when looking at just people of color. According to a research brief put together by the What We Know Project at Cornell University, LGBTQ people of color are more than twice as likely to experience discrimination when applying for new jobs – a difference of 32% vs 13%.
Discrimination in the workplace fosters an environment where employees don’t feel safe to be out at work. But the effects go beyond the individual.
How Company Values Affect Workplace Satisfaction & Recruiting
There’s an increasing amount of data to show that a company’s values have a direct impact on workplace satisfaction for both employees and employers. It also directly affects recruiting and the caliber of talent acquired for open positions.
According to research compiled by MITSloan Management Review from Glassdoor, company culture places a huge role in both recruiting and in employee retention. After analyzing 1.4 million employee reviews on Glassdoor, MITSloan found the element of company culture that mattered the most was that employees wish to feel respected in the workplace.
The key factors under this categorization include courtesy and dignity. This relates to employees being treated well and fairly, of course, with decent pay and without being berated over job performance. But it also relates to respect to one’s identity, sexual orientation, or general ability to be one’s self in the workplace.
The data backs up the notion that company culture affects workplace satisfaction, recruiting ability, employee retention, and productivity continues. According to Bonfyre, 58% of employees reported that they’d leave a job if they experienced a work environment that was permeated by negative office politics. Nor would prospects apply to a company that had a bad public reputation from former employees, with 86% indicating they’d pass on applying to such an organization.
Likewise, Gallup reports creating a company culture and environment that attracts top talent can result in a 33% increase in revenue. And with Forbes declaring 2022 as the year of company culture, it’s easy to see why making this a priority is so important moving forward.
As the data shows, treating all workers fairly and avoiding gender identity discrimination in the workplace is also a good business decision, not just the morally correct one.
What Are Your Rights in the Workplace?
Now that we’ve covered a bit about what IDAHOBIT Day is, how homophobia affects the workplace, and how promoting a diverse company culture can actually boost revenue, productivity, and retention, we can move on to the real meat and potatoes of our subject today: knowing your rights in the workplace as they pertain to sexual orientation and gender identity.
What follows is a breakdown of workers’ rights in 2022 in the following countries:
- United States,
- United Kingdom,
1. Workplace Rights in the United States
Workplace protections have taken many forms over the years in the United States, but most recently, in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, No. 17-1618 (S. Ct. June 15, 2020), the Supreme Court found that firing someone due to their sexual orientation or gender identity violated laws regarding discrimination because of sex (Title VII).
The ruling fell under this category because discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity is inherently related to sex, so they qualify as relevant to Title VII. In the Court’s write up accompanying the ruling, they explained as follows:
“...discrimination based on homosexuality or transgender status necessarily entails discrimination based on sex; the first cannot happen without the second.”
Additionally, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services announced in May 2021 that their Office for Civil Rights will enforce the Supreme Court’s decision regarding Bostock v. Clayton County.
2. Workplace Rights in the United Kingdom
Discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation and gender identity has been summarily banned in the U.K. thanks to the Equality Act, which was passed in 2010.
And as of May 17, 2021, the Minister for Women and Equalities made a statement regarding a plan to create a global LGBT rights conference for June of 2022 to bring together an international coalition dedicated to decriminalizing homosexuality and providing enhanced legal protections for LGBT people around the world. But discrimination still can and does occur.
3. Workplace Rights in Australia
Australia has its share of worker protection laws as well. The Sex Discrimination Act of 1984 included protections for those based on sex, intersex status, gender identity, and sexual orientation, as well as marital status, pregnancy, and family responsibilities.
And you've got the right to file a complaint if discrimination does occur. According to Justice Connect, the best way to do this is to file a complaint in writing with the Australian Human Rights Commission. It should be submitted within twelve months of the discriminatory events at work. The AHRC will then make a decision on whether or not they’ll investigate the complaint further.
You can also file a complaint with the Fair Work Commission, but these claims must be made within 21 days of the incident.
Learn More About IDAHOBIT DAY
We’ve written about IDAHOBIT Day for several years now, covering numerous aspects of the day itself, its history, what discrimination looks like, as well as what companies can do to adopt better anti-discriminatory practices. Here are a few articles from previous years to broaden your education further:
- How Your Company Can Recognise IDAHOBIT DayAndrew Blackman16 May 2019
- How Your Business Can Fight Homophobia and Protect All Employees (IDAHOBIT Day 2020)Daniel Strongin17 May 2020
- How to Work Together To Fight Homophobia in the Workplace: IDAHOBIT Day 2021Daisy Ein17 May 2021
Educate Yourself and Put a Stop to Gender Identity Discrimination in the Workplace
The key to putting a stop to workplace discrimination is to first have a thorough understanding of what it is and what it looks like. It’s also important to understand the current laws in this space and how they're applied in the real world.
So, managers and corporate leaders, listen up! You can take action right now to end gender identity discrimination at your companies. With a willingness to learn and the ability to create an environment that speaks to the needs of your LGBTQIA+ employees and recruits, you can do your part in making the world a safer, more accepting place for those of all sexual orientations and gender identities.
And why not make IDAHOBIT DAY the perfect time to get started on this effort?