Stark barriers to LGBTQ+ progression revealed

News types: Corporate Reports, Policies and Responsibilities, Publications

Published: 18 November 2020

  • New research highlights the personal experiences and extent of discrimination faced, as well as inspiring stories of bravery and determination.
  • Corporate culture can both enable - and hinder - the progression of LGBTQ+ people to senior leadership positions, this report provides recommendations to build a better culture.
  • To drive change, companies should regularly capture and transparently report the experiences of LGBTQ+ employees. 

LGBTQ+ people have made a significant contribution within the business community, yet the barriers to their progression and extent of discrimination has often been stark, new research commissioned by the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) has revealed.

Many of the personal experiences and individual journeys faced by LGBTQ+ business leaders, alongside the challenges and barriers encountered, are captured in The Good Side’s report Supporting the progression of LGBTQ+ people to senior leadership positions through inclusive company policies.

The report found that too often corporate culture has not been a welcoming environment for LGBTQ+ people to be themselves. In progressing to the highest ranks of corporate leadership, the leaders interviewed for the report often faced discrimination and had to make personal sacrifices. As a result, many chose not to disclose their LGBTQ+ identity until late into their careers.

Despite numerous challenges, these leaders, often supported by close allies, have made inspiring progress to ensure future LGBTQ+ employees will be much less likely to experience similar challenges or barriers to progression.

While many companies are making progress, the report demonstrates:

  • many need to go much further to foster inclusivity
  • to achieve lasting change, companies must systematically embed inclusive practices and ways of working
  • without transparency and evidencing of progress, corporate commitment to equality risks remaining aspirational rather than being truly attainable.

In line with the UK Corporate Governance Code, company practices and policies should have clear links to business strategy. Crucially, progress must be monitored and measured.

FRC CEO, Sir Jon Thompson said:

I applaud the bravery and determination of the LGBTQ+ business leaders who by sharing their personal stories are helping the next generation of LGBTQ+ business leaders.
Despite progress, many companies need to rise to the challenge by actively championing LGBTQ+ inclusion and progression.
Creating inclusive cultures is not just the right thing to do, it is good for business, can generate higher levels of entrepreneurialism and innovation and help to attract and retain the best talent. A lack of inclusivity on the other hand is a huge risk to business.”

Saul Parker, Founder of The Good Side said:

As a business that helps organisations understand and adapt to cultural change, we know that building a business is also about building a culture. Our hope in publishing this report is that more companies can take steps to evolve their cultures into truly enabling and open environments for their colleagues, whatever their sexual orientation or gender identity.”