Diversity in the labour force in terms of age, gender, ethnic origin, disability and sexual orientation and gender identity has grown substantially over recent decades. A majority of the labour force come from one or more of these diverse groups. As leading employers understand, recognising and supporting diversity in the workplace is essential for success.
Diversity Champions is Ireland's workplace diversity programme assisting employers with the inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees. Through Diversity Champions members can showcase their company as a forward thinking, creative employer that is committed to the business case for diversity.
See the Diversity Champions website for more information.
Excellence in Diversity - Online good practice employers toolkit
Is your organisation a good place to work for your lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) employees?
How can your organisation improve its inclusion of LGBT employees?
Excellence in Diversity is a free, quick and easy to use online self assessment toolkit that supports organisations to realise the benefits of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender diversity.
Excellence in Diversity will help your organisation to:
- Measure your diversity performance against best practice standards
- Receive practical guidance on how to develop your diversity practice
- Discover different approaches to designing and implementing your workplace diversity strategy
- Identify short, medium and long term targets to improve performance
Based on Irish and international best practice, Excellence in Diversity is tailored to meet the needs of a wide range of Irish organisations, whatever their size and experience of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender workplace diversity.
Begin assessing you organisation's LGBT diversity performance today by logging on to http://diversitychampions.glen.ie/resources/benchmark_your_organisation.
Funded by the Equality Mainstreaming Unit which is jointly funded by the European Social Fund 2007-2013 and by the Equality Authority
The Business Case for LGBT Diversity
"Our openness to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people will be a critical part of our success as an advanced, competitive and ‘smart' global economy. The Government recognises that diversity and equality can be key global competitive advantages for Ireland in developing, attracting and retaining investment, enterprises, key high skilled workers, and visitors, and is committed to ensuring equality for LGBT people in the workplace and in society."
(Former) Tánaiste, Mary Coughlan, and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment
Lesbian, gay and bisexual people are more and more visible in society generally. With 6% of the workforce equalling 130,000 people, LGB employees make up an important element of the Irish workforce. International experience shows that employers who are inclusive of their LGB employees are equally inclusive of the other diverse groups who collectively make up a majority of the work force. The introduction of Civil Partnership for same sex couples will increase this LGB visibility even further.
Employers from a range of sectors such as Microsoft, University College Cork, an Garda Síochána and Accenture understand the four key benefits of creating a workforce culture that embraces diversity and equality.
Reputation - Organisational reputation is hugely important and becomes more so as the world becomes more competitive and consumers and service users more demanding. In the past, brand association with sexual orientation was sometimes seen as a liability. Now it is perceived as an asset. Addressing issues of sexual orientation can demonstrate that an organisation is courageous and forward-thinking. It can also furnish an ideal platform to communicate a commitment to an important human rights issue of their times that is also good for business.
In the private sector, robust diversity policies and practices seen to encompass LGB people can play an important part in attracting the ‘pink euro'. While not all LGB people have high disposable income, statistical evidence suggests it is a lucrative market for many businesses. Market research by Out Now Consulting in 2007 estimated the annual income of gay and lesbian people in Ireland in to be €8.75 billion per annum.
In the public sector equality and diversity have already been identified as key principles in delivering the Quality Customer Service Initiative.
Performance - Retaining a motivated workforce is critical because it is the discretionary effort that employees make that is a key difference between an organisation and its competition. The values an organisation espouses and its reputation play an increasingly important part in its ability to attract, retain and enhance talent.
One of these core values is the fair treatment of all staff. A recent survey of 1,110 LGB people in Ireland showed that 57% of lesbian and gay staff surveyed concealed their sexual orientation from some or all of their colleagues for fear of the negative implications disclosure may have on their career. (Mayock et al 2009).
This fear creates stress and tension for many staff but it has consequences for employers too. People perform better when they can be themselves. Research in America has found that employees who felt able to be ‘out' as gay or lesbian in safe environments earn 50 per cent more than their ‘closeted peers', indicating the added value they were creating in their workplace. Conversely, more than half of gay or lesbian employees facing discrimination report a direct negative work impact (Stonewall 2008).
"Where people do not feel that they will be accepted then they cannot contribute their full potential. This is not just a personal loss but also a loss to the organisation or business, and also ultimately to society generally."
Recruitment and retention - In a recent Irish survey, workplace equality was the single most important issue for over 1,000 LGB respondents (Denyer et al 2009). Australian research found that almost two in five lesbian and gay staff facing discrimination will change careers if the discrimination continues.
With skills at a premium irrespective of the economic climate, holding on to expensively trained, nurtured and motivated staff is a key priority in terms of human resources and company reputation.
This applies equally to both the private and public sectors:
"The Public Service must attract and retain people with the skills and the motivation to deliver excellent services to the citizen. Higher levels of service delivery and performance are achieved ... as the most appropriate person is encouraged and supported to move into a position that best meets their capability and the organisation's needs"
Transforming the Public Service: Task Force on the Public Sector 2010
Risk mitigation - Prejudice has both human and financial costs for staff and employers. The largest sum awarded by the Equality Tribunal for discrimination in employment is €189,000. There are also significant ancillary costs for employers including legal fees, recruitment, inducted and training new staff, and regaining the trust of key stakeholders.