Third of FTSE 100 firms fail to include LGBT+ in annual report

2 Aug 2019 By Jonathan Owen

Despite progress for LGBT+ diversity and inclusion, experts say figure shows there is still ‘a long way to go’

One in three FTSE 100 companies failed to mention LGBT+ diversity issues in their latest annual reports, according to new research released today, prompting campaigners to demand firms do more to promote diversity and inclusion.

An analysis of the 2018 annual reports of FTSE 100 companies by Involve found that 65 per cent contain some mention of LGBT+, up from 53 per cent in 2014.

However, 35 per cent make no reference to the issue.

The analysis also found that more than one in seven (17 per cent) of the firms who changed their Twitter logos to support Pride month in July did not mention LGBT+ in their annual report.

The research looked at the presence of LGBT+ in everything from imagery and policy statements to details of things done by the company, demographics and targets relating to diversity and inclusion.

Using LGBT+ role models within an organisation demonstrates that LGBT+ employees are championed and supported in the workplace, according to Involve. But just 2 per cent of FTSE 100 companies mention LGBT+ role models in their annual reports.

Suki Sandhu OBE, founder and chief executive of Involve, said: “Annual reports are of huge importance for FTSE 100 companies as it is their chance to highlight the key issues and initiatives that they are focusing on.

“To see that LGBT+ diversity and inclusion is not just celebrated during Pride but is an increasing part of companies’ annual reports is a great step forward.”

He added: “Yet this research also highlights the other 35 per cent of FTSE 100 companies who are not being loud and proud about LGBT+ diversity and inclusion in their annual reports.”

The analysis did highlight some companies that were performing better than others. GSK, Barclays and Pearson lead the way in showing support for LGBT+ issues, according to Involve.

In 2018, Pearson updated all its school textbooks to be LGBT+ inclusive; GSK pledged its support for the UN LGBTI Global Business Standards, and saw its LGBT+ group recognised as ‘Employee Network Group of the Year’; and Barclays sponsored and took part in over 25 Pride celebrations around the UK.

Dr Jill Miller, diversity and inclusion adviser at the CIPD, told People Management: “The increase in the number of FTSE companies reporting on LGBT+ inclusion at work is encouraging and suggests more organisations are recognising the importance of taking action.

“However, this research suggests there is still a long way to go until it’s the norm. It’s vital that organisations understand that LGBT inclusion isn’t just about branding during Pride, it’s about sustained action for inclusion throughout the year.”

She added: “Too often annual reports are ‘boilerplate’ in nature and don’t describe anything meaningful to the reader – even though stakeholders use them to measure progress. As well as reporting data and showing a commitment to LGBT inclusion, annual reports need to include a clear description of what success looks like, what barriers still remain and how they will be overcome.”  

Louise Aston, wellbeing director at Business in the Community, commented: “With our most recent research showing that 81 per cent of LGBT+ employees have experienced a mental health issue, compared with 61 per cent of the general workforce, it’s encouraging that most of the FTSE 100 mention LGBT+ in their annual reports.”

But she added: “There is more work to be done as the remaining 35 per cent need to catch up and demonstrate how diversity and inclusion are at the top of their agenda.”

And Hephzi Pemberton, founder of Equality Group, said that FTSE 100 companies “bear a significant and critical responsibility to set a precedence for all smaller businesses in regards to LGBTQ+ diversity and inclusion within the workplace as SMEs will be seeking guidance from those who have succeeded before them.” 

Separately, the wider work that needs to be done to improve attitudes is also highlighted by recent research showing a significant number of UK employees feeling that they cannot talk about LGBT+ rights in the workplace.

Research by recruitment website Jobsite released last week found workers were more comfortable discussing immigration issues (62 per cent) than LGBT+ rights (54 per cent).

And last month, People Management reported how LGBT+ staff are paid 16 per cent less than their heterosexual counterparts, with many not having come out at work due to concerns about the effect it would have on their career prospects.

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