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Reflecting on the national LGBT survey results and LGBT Action Plan

Last week, the Government announced a major set of policy initiatives for LGBT people. We attended the launch event. Here are some reflections on the LGBT Action Plan and results from the national LGBT survey.

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By Civil Service LGBT+ Network

Last week, the Government announced the results of last year’s national LGBT survey and its policy response: the LGBT Action Plan. We were delighted to be able to attend the launch event.

What the results said

The results of the national LGBT survey are incredibly exciting: more than 108,000 people responded to the survey making it the largest national survey of its kind anywhere in the world. This means there is an incredibly rich evidence base for government and the Civil Service to work from.

As exciting an evidence base as it is though, the results are also shocking. You’ll likely have seen some of the headline findings in the press. These include:

  • more than two-thirds of respondents said they avoided holding hands with their same-sex partner in public
  • 70% of respondents with a minority sexual orientation and 67% of those who identified as trans said they avoided being open about being LGBT in public because they feared a negative reaction from others
  • 2% of respondents said they had undertaken so-called “conversion therapy” and a further 5% had been offered it

These results are startling to many, though perhaps unsurprising to people like us who live with these issues every day.

The survey covered four main areas: health, education, safety and the workplace. As an employee network, we were most interested in the workplace findings, though the results have relevance to many parts of government in terms of policy and delivery.

The workplace

In the workplace, the survey found that of the respondents who had a paid job in the 12 months preceding the survey:

  • around 1 in 5 people were not open about being LGBT with any of their colleagues at the same or a lower level
  • 30% were not open with senior colleagues and 57% were not open with their clients or customers
  • around a quarter of respondents had experienced a negative or mixed reaction to them being LGBT
  • more than 7 in 10 people said the most serious incident they experienced was not reported
  • respondents were more likely to find staff networks, trades unions and LGBT specific charitable organisations more helpful in handling the situations they faced

These figures are more stark than results from other exercises like the Civil Service People Survey; particularly in relation to the amount of workplace bullying and harassment that may be occurring. They also endorse the existence of networks like us.

You can read the full results from the LGBT survey on GOV.UK.

What do the results mean for the Civil Service

The Civil Service has made several commitments in response to the findings of the survey. They are:

“The Civil Service will continue to role model best practice in establishing working environments that are inclusive for LGBT staff in accordance with the Civil Service Diversity and Inclusion Strategy. We will continue our work to review and strengthen how we tackle bullying, harassment and misconduct in the Civil Service, implementing and building on the review carried out between Autumn 2017 and Summer 2018.

“We will ensure the Civil Service is an exemplar employer for collecting data on sexual orientation and gender identity in a sensitive, respectful and proportionate way. Civil Service HR, the Office for National Statistics and the Government Equalities Office will work to develop standardised questions for inclusion in internal departmental systems such as human resources systems for government employees. Civil Service HR will continue to include questions on sexual orientation and gender identity in the annual Civil Service People Survey so that the diverse workplace experiences of civil servants can be better understood.

“The Civil Service will demonstrate its own commitment to becoming the UK’s most inclusive employer by having a presence at Pride events each year and by supporting departmental staff networks and all staff across gender, ethnicity, faith and belief, age and disability to engage with these events.”

We welcome the commitments that the Civil Service has made in response to the survey findings. We will work closely with the Civil Service Diversity and Inclusion team to ensure that the commitments that have been made are delivered. And, of course, we will continue to organise participation in pride events across the UK.

You can read the full LGBT Action Plan on GOV.UK.