The Rainbow Project has launched a research report looking at lesbian, gay and bisexual peoples experiences of equality in the workplace; ‘Through Our Eyes – Experiences of Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual People in the Workplace.’

The report was commissioned by the Department for Social Development and was launched today (Wednesday 23 March) in Parliament Buildings with the Minister for Social Development, Alex Attwood MLA.

Speaking at the launch, Matthew McDermott the Equality Officer at The Rainbow Project and the report’s author said, ‘This report presents quantitative data on the experiences of lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) people of employment in Northern Ireland. It is the first piece of research of its kind in Northern Ireland which will inform government and employers of the experiences of LGB people in the workplace. This in turn should then enable government and employers to consider the measures they think appropriate to improve working life for all LGB people.

This report also presents a narrative; it outlines, in the research participants own words, what they experience in work and how they feel because of those experiences. Extracts, which appear throughout the entire report, are drawn from online entries and one to one interviews with participants. They help tell the story of what same sex attracted people face in work and what they feel they must accept as ‘normal.’

‘While great progress had been made in the promotion of equality of opportunity across Northern Ireland, including in our workplaces, this report indicates that more needs to be done, particularly for LGB people. More than one in four LGB people in the private sector are not open about their sexual orientation to anyone in work. The experience is similar for those working in the public sector (24.5%).

‘In the community and voluntary sector 31% of LGB people have heard derogatory comments being made about lesbian, gay and bisexual people by a colleague while in work. This rises to 40% in the public sector and rises again for those in the private sector to 42.5%. In addition to that more than 1 in 4 LGB people have had reason to make a compliant in work relating to their sexual orientation.

‘This report provides a great opportunity for government and employers to work in partnership with the LGBT professional sector to broaden good relations and deliver a more equal society. Employers should look to get the best from all their employees, just as employees should look to get the best from their employers and there is an opportunity with the recommendations from this report to make that happen.

John O’Doherty, Director of The Rainbow Project said, ‘This report provides the evidence base for what it is like for LGB people in work in Northern Ireland. It also provides the business case for acting to make the situation better. Government, employers and The Rainbow Project have considerable work to do in that regard. I would urge our political representatives to read the report and commit to working together to implementing the recommendations’.

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One Comment

  • Thomas O'Donnell

    Speaks volumes that this is the first report of its kind to be produced in the North of Ireland; Especially when funding is made available for such things as ‘how to make the perfect cup of tea’ -the Royal Society of Chemistry- or ‘why does a cookie crumble? By Loughbourough University. Perhaps if the main recommendations of the McDermott (2011)report are implemented we all can look forward happily to the next tea break and ponder the bigger questions in life, like ‘what’s better a Chocolate Hob Nob or Chocolate Digestive?-research grant pending.

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