Employment and Learning Minister Dr Stephen Farry recently launched a project to raise awareness among employers of the issues in the workplace affecting those who are gay, lesbian and bisexual.

Evidence shows that businesses that foster diversity do better in terms of productivity and growth, with higher staff retention rates. Research underpinning the Project also indicates that the UK lost £4.55 billion due to work-related stress in 2007, of which £682.5 million can be attributed to workplace bullying.

Minister Farry officially launched the Project at the MAC in central Belfast and highlighted the benefits it will bring to local businesses.

Dr Farry said: “I am pleased to launch this significant awareness raising project. Promoting greater equality and diversity, especially if seen as an intrinsic part of the ethos and culture of an organisation, can lead not only to improved productivity and growth, but to fostering a culture of tolerance and respect.”

The two year contract for the awareness raising project was awarded to the Rainbow Project in response to a report produced by us entitled ‘Through our Eyes; Experiences of lesbian, gay and bisexual people in the workplace’. The report highlighted that too many people experience negative attitudes in the workplace because of their sexual orientation, that there is a lack of confidence amongst LGB people to be open about their sexuality at work and that many employers are unaware of their responsibilities around equality.

The Minister continued: “I have no doubt that the continued hard work of the Rainbow Project will make a difference to many lives in Northern Ireland by changing perceptions, breaking down barriers and ensuring that the Northern Ireland workforce is of the highest calibre. The Project will help address the issues identified in the “Through our eyes” report by increasing employers’ awareness of their responsibility in terms of equality in the workplace, and further encourage them to embrace the importance of having a work environment which is welcoming to those who are lesbian, gay and bisexual.

“I am committed to ensuring that the workplace is a safe and open place for people from all backgrounds to be who they are and to feel free from discrimination. In order to achieve the goal of a shared society, we must embrace diversity and ensure that there are no barriers to the full participation of people who are gay, lesbian and bisexual in the workplace.”

If you would like more information about the project please contact Aidan Donegan on 90319030 aidan@rainbow-project.org

To view or download a copy of “Through Our Eyes; Experiences of lesbian. gay and bisexual people in the workplace” click here

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