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LinkedIn research points to UK pay gap between straight and LGBT+ workers

New research from LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network, shows that businesses could be doing more to support LGBT+ employees in the workplace, as a pay gap with straight colleagues is revealed.

  • New research from LinkedIn suggests that the income of LGBT+* professionals in the UK is 16%, or £6,703, less on average than their straight counterparts
  • The research also shows that one fifth of all workers believe employers are not doing enough to support LGB+ employees - rising to 31% of gay or lesbian workers and 29% of bisexual workers
  • LGBT+ workers want to see more transparency, more supportive and inclusive environments and more inspirational LGBT+ leaders to share their stories at work 

New research from LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network, shows that businesses could be doing more to support LGBT+ employees in the workplace, as a pay gap with straight colleagues is revealed.

The research, conducted in partnership with leading LGBTQ+ organisation UK Black Pride, was carried out by YouGov, and surveyed 4,000 UK workers who identified as being straight, gay, bisexual or other.

It reveals that while two thirds (65%) of workers believe that their workplace is doing enough to support LGB+ employees, one fifth (21%) think they should do more. This is particularly true of transgender employees, with 44% saying more should be done, as well as 31% of gay and lesbian and 29% of bisexual workers - compared to just 12% of hetrosexual workers.

For those who think more needs to be done, 57% want to see greater transparency around employers’ stance on diversity and inclusion, while 55% want more supportive environments for coming out at work. Over two-fifths (44%) want to see more inspirational people within the workplace sharing their own experiences, while 37% want more LGB+ events and groups at work. 

Currently, 70% of LGBT+ professionals say they have no senior LGBT+ people at work to look up to, a sentiment that is particularly strong for workers in the manufacturing (82%) and construction (80%) industries. And, this could be having an impact on people coming out at work - 28% of professionals who are not currently openly LGB+ with colleagues say it’s because they worry they’ll be judged by coworkers, and 17% say it’s because there are no openly LGB+ people in their workplace at the moment.

The study also looked at the experiences of the transgender community, for which the income gap compared to their straight counterparts stands at 14%, or £5,340, of annual income. 

The research found that prejudice still exists in the workplace, with 21% of LGBT+ respondents having experienced verbal abuse in the office and almost two thirds (61%) saying that they have been made to feel uncomfortable by colleagues at some point in the workplace because of their sexuality. This may be why 14% of LGB+ respondents feel that their chances of promotion in their company would be hindered if they were to come out.

Joshua Graff, UK Country Manager at LinkedIn said: “While a significant number of UK workers feel that their employer is supportive and inclusive of LGBT+ colleagues, our research shows there is still a long way to go. It is important that businesses build on the steps that many have already taken to create more inclusive environments - places where people can bring their true, authentic selves to work.”

Stonewall, Britain’s leading charity for lesbian, gay, bi and trans equality, has some key pieces of advice for businesses when it comes to boosting LGBT+ inclusion in the workplace, including:

  • Ensuring senior figures and leadership within organisations are championing LGBT inclusion and creating positive change
  • Setting up LGBT staff network groups and supporting their development within your organisation
  • Monitoring sexual orientation and gender identity within the workplace to increase insight into the challenges faced by LGBT staff and use this to take positive action

Suki Sandhu OBE, CEO and Founder, INvolve commented: “Research like this from LinkedIn is incredibly important in reminding organisations that inclusion should be at the top of their agenda. Although we have seen progress in the workplace for LGBT+ people, it is clear that there are still substantial issues which can make it difficult for individuals to thrive professionally as their authentic selves. LGBT+ people are at all levels of a business, whether they’re out or not, so it’s crucial to have inclusive environments. It’s not only morally right, but it also strengthens the bottom line.”

Phyll Opoku-Gyimah, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Black Pride commented: "The more we hear from LGBTQ employees, the more we begin to understand that the fight for equality is far from over. Whilst it's brilliant to see research like this highlighting the conversation, it's vital that there is change in the day-to-day cultures of companies to help LGBTQ employees feel comfortable at work, including those of colour that may also be experiencing discrimination and racism.”

The research follows a spike in LinkedIn members discussing being out at work on the platform, with more than twice as many posts on LinkedIn during Pride month around this topic. Join the conversation on LinkedIn by using #OutOnLinkedIn