Majority of line managers not receiving LGBT inclusivity training, research finds

Experts warn action is more crucial than ever as hybrid working risks face-to-face support ‘falling by the wayside’

Credit: Joseph Prezioso/AFP/Getty Images

Most businesses are not providing line managers with LGBTQ+ inclusivity training, research has found.

A poll of 1,183 employees, conducted by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI), found three-quarters (74 per cent) said their line managers were not given training around inclusion of LGBTQ+ workers.

The survey also found a lack of support for LGBTQ+ individuals in the wider organisation: just half (49 per cent) of respondents said that senior leaders championed LGBTQ+ inclusivity in their organisation, while two in five (39 per cent) said they had visible LGBTQ+ role models.

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Similarly, just 49 per cent reported the existence of a LGBTQ+ staff network.

Nishi Mayor, business director at Business in the Community (BITC), said organisations needed to do more to ensure they had visible LGBTQ+ role models, and that they had set policies supporting colleagues in the LGBTQ+ community. 

“Any businesses not doing this are doing themselves a disservice, as their talented employees will apply to inclusive employers who are offering the LGBTQ+ community the support they deserve,” she said.

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Melanie Green, research advisor at the CIPD, added that employers needed to provide targeted management training to raise awareness of LGBTQ+ issues, and to support managers with good practice on inclusion.

“Organisations and senior leaders need to take action to make more systemic changes, like developing an inclusive culture, and ensuring that there are LGB+ and trans specific policies in place,” she said.

The CMI research found the majority (89 per cent) of respondents said their organisation’s culture was inclusive enough for staff to report inappropriate behaviour, such as bullying on the grounds of sexual orientation.

Similarly, 70 per cent of the survey’s non-heterosexual respondents said they felt comfortable being open about their sexual orientation with their colleagues. However, when asked if they felt comfortable being open with their manager, this number fell to 63 per cent.

And while more than half (56 per cent) of respondents said their employer had a workplace policy or guide relating to sexual orientation equality or inclusion, just 40 per cent) said there was one specifically relating to trans equality or inclusion.

Ann Francke, chief executive of the CMI, said the fact that so many employers did not have what she described as “basic DE&I schemes” needed to be a “wake-up call”. “If employers remain stuck in the past, they will suffer when they can’t recruit and retain the diverse talent that every business needs to grow and succeed,” she warned.  

With the move to widespread hybrid working, Francke added there was a risk face-to-face training, mentoring and support networks could fall by the wayside unless many employers up their game. “Action in this area is now crucial more than ever,” she said.