I have collected the following resources with brief commentaries to help you make a case to organisations (employers, universities, anyone) to show them how they can improve their support for LGBT people and to educate those who are not quite sure what the issues are. I’ve grouped them under questions and also suggested how they might be used or have been used. I’ve also tried to source some of the research that is quoted, but which is rarely referenced. Much of the research comes from the US, but my feeling that there are enough similarities in work culture between the US and the UK for that research to be helpful. And some of it directly applicable to organisations that are multinational in recruitment if not in operations. If there is anything you think should be added or amended, please let me know
What’s the coming out at work problem?
John Browne’s ‘The Glass Closet: why coming out is good business’; WH Allen. London 2015, is a very good study of not only the personal journey of a top executive forced to come out but also some very good insights of executives who choose to stay in the closet and those who are out.
‘LGBT Diversity: Show Me The Business Case’ – is probably the largest survey looking at different countries and ‘coming out rates’ and also suggested the costs of to organisations of people staying in the closet. Good for evidence of how many people stay in the closet at work.
Forbes is a US magazine that often covers LGBT issues. How to come out at work; lessons for LGBT leadership is a good summary of the key issues
What’s the advantage to an organisation of LGBT people being out at work? (ie the business case)
Stonewall’s Peak Performance: Gay People and Productivity is still probably the best piece of research in this area. A really good starting point if you are aiming to make your organisation takes the support and development of LGBT people seriously
This Guardian article We need to do more to keep LGBT employees returning to the closet sums up some key arguments. A companion piece about how to overcome challenges in the work place quotes a % of people not out at work, but sadly there is no reference to the source research.
The Daily Telegraph article, the Benefits of Being Out is a good overview of the experiences of LGBT executives; good for case studies.
Finimpact has many resources if you’re a small business, looking for start-up funding or looking to be an entrepreneur. Check out this LGBTQ+ blog: https://www.finimpact.com/support-lgbtq-owned-small-businesses/ – it’s US-based, but has some very good transferable information especially if you scroll down the page.
The student experience
The National Union of Students published Education Beyond the Straight and Narrow which looks at the experiences of LGBT students on campus covering issues such as safety, mental health and broad experiences of Trans* students.
Another excellent report based on qualitative and quantitative research is Sheffield Hallam’s From Freshers to Finals by Eleanor Formby.
August 2020 – I’m a white gay man: Can I/should I be an Ally to LGBTQ+ people? How BLM has made me think really, really hard about what an Ally can actually achieve. What is the current experience of people coming out today, courtesy of BBC Radio 4.
Despite LGBTQ being an umbrella term, we’re not all the same: my experiences are not the same as my lesbian friends, nor my B, T, Q, non-binary and asexual friends. As I say in my introduction to the Allies Induction workshops at the University of Birmingham: I have a good idea about what it is to be a cisgender, gay, white, middle-class male; some idea of what it is to be LBTQ from what I’ve read and whom I’ve spoken to, but I wouldn’t presume to fully understand what their experiences are. At best I can try and understand common issues (eg being out in work), listen and do my homework, but I’m as much as ally to those under the LGBTQ+ umbrella as non-LGBTQ people are allies to me. And I think the Black Lives Matter movement has made me think about how to be another sort of ally and what I can do on a day-to-day basis and consider where I have influence. Some of it is formal – I’m chair of governors at my local primary school, some informal – having conversations with my mostly white neighbours where perhaps I might have not made the effort before. And educating myself. I’m a big tennis fan and have just finished a biography of Arthur Ashe (Arthur Ashe: A Life by Raymond Arsenault) – as much a study of his initially very tentative development from maintaining his poise and calmness in the face of discrimination to a growing willingness to confront south African apartheid and be an activist in the face of the AIDS crisis and getting arrested for fighting for the rights of those, like him, whose lives would be lost. Apart from the tennis, and there’s a lot of it, at least half of the 700 pages, it’s a fascinating study of how a person of extraordinary talent in one area grew into an even more influential human rights campaigner. And great to see similar roke-models emerging in the likes of Marcus Rashford and Tom Daley, which brings me neatly to a programme broadcast in August 2020..
Tom Daley is an example of someone who’s activist journey started at a much earlier age – very well captured on the BBC Radio 4 https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000lsgr made by Dustin Lance Black and exploring the history, the very notion of coming out, the importance of role model. He interviews people from across the LGBTQ+ spectrum drawing out the similarities and differences of their experiences, investigates the multi-layered complexities of intersectionality, the part social media plays in coming out and questions whether ‘coming out’ as thing has had its time. Extremely thought-provoking and I’d certainly recommend you forward it to your Ally network.
I’m continuing to work on this page, so do check back periodically.
Sean, August 2020.