The world's largest research study into the lives of lesbian,
gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people has just released the
first ever global data comparing experiences of homophobia at work
and in daily life for LGBT people living in 21 countries around the
The new research study includes important information about real
life experiences of LGBT people in all six continents - and reveals
the clearest picture yet of the prevalence of homophobia and its
current impacts on the lives of many millions of lesbian and gay
Almost one in every six respondents to the LGBT2020 study from
both the USA and UK (US: 15.3% and UK: 14.5%) told researchers they
have personally experienced harassment from colleagues at work
during the past twelve months, because of their perceived
The statistics are part of the world's largest and most
comprehensive LGBT research project - the 'Out Now Global LGBT2020
Study'. This landmark research project has already collected data
from more than twenty countries, in twelve languages measuring a
broad range of aspects of the lives of LGBT people.
Out Now - who devised the LGBT2020 study - is the
world's leading global LGBT consulting organisation. LGBT2020
covers a broad range of areas including discrimination,
demographics and consumer activities.
A key finding is that homophobic harassment and discrimination is
still commonplace in many aspects of LGBT people's lives.
Current high levels of homophobia at work stand in marked contrast
to the far more positive picture portrayed by ranked corporate
scores from various corporate Diversity & Inclusion indexes,
published by non-government organisations in the UK, USA and
In recent years such indexes have tended to show strong
improvements in many workplaces - with some indexes even awarding
100% scores to certain participating corporations.
But the reality for many gay and lesbian people at work appears to
be quite different.
According to Ian Johnson, CEO of OutNowConsulting.com -
the world's leading LGBT consulting company - which carried out the
research, companies need to do much better if the very laudable
aims of workplace Diversity and Inclusion policies are to carry
through into real improvements for all gay and lesbian staff at
"It is easy to become complacent in the context of upwardly
trending results in the various corporate equality indexes,"
Johnson said. "There is a real danger that corporations seeing the
awarding of high results or 100% scores on these indexes take out
the message that there is little left to do when it comes to making
LGBT people at work fully integrated, feel secure, respected and
able to work as valued team members. The figures we see for various
countries around the world contain disturbing findings. Levels of
harassment in the workplace are too high in every country we
sampled, and there is not one country where all LGBT people feel
able to come out at work."
These concerns were echoed by David Chalmers, Director of The
Kaleidoscope Trust - a global non-government organisation committed
to promoting diversity and LGBT rights internationally.
"Quality independent research of this kind is invaluable in
helping us to understand the scale of the worldwide problem of
homophobia and discrimination on the grounds of sexuality, and to
identify where best to concentrate our efforts," said Chalmers.
"With levels of discrimination in the workplace remaining so high
in countries like the UK and the USA, these findings show there is
enormous work to do to bring about changes in attitudes towards
LGBT people in the rest of the world."
Johnson said Out Now has identified what it calls 'The Diversity
Gap' and has called upon companies to set about closing this
"We see it in responses to questions that show how reluctant
people are to ask about diversity and inclusion policies for LGBT
employees during job interviews - even though the LGBT2020 study
shows this to be one of the most critically important factors in a
new job for most respondents when they consider a potential
employer. At Out Now we call this the 'Diversity Gap' and we feel
it is imperative that companies stop focusing so much on achieving
good scores in equality indexes and start putting more effort where
it is most needed and will do the most good - by listening to their
employees, and focusing on putting more resource into genuinely
making things better at work for their LGBT staff."
Johnson stressed his company was not against corporate indexes.
"These indexes have a role to play," said Johnson. "It is just that
we think many organisations have lost their way in recent years.
The imperative to score highly on such indexes risks becoming an
objective in itself - and the fact that many of the organisations
which grant these scores also often collect a fee from the very
companies they are ranking highly makes us feel quite uncomfortable
about the process at times."
Chalmers added there were dangers in relying on high scores on
corporate LGBT workplace indexes globally: "In countries where
there is some form of legal protection against discrimination in
the workplace ranking companies by their legal compliance can help
but In the international context, research based on indexes and
rankings can actually be counter productive."
Stonewall Director of Workplace Colleen Humphrey said: 'We know
from our work to tackle state-sponsored homophobia worldwide that
many gay people still live in fear of harassment and
discrimination, including at work. Even here in Britain, recent
research for Stonewall shows 2.4 million people of working age have
witnessed homophobic bullying at work in the last five years, so
it's clear more needs to be done. Over 600 major employers, with 10
million staff worldwide between them, work with us to make sure
their gay staff are supported in every location they're based, and
we encourage those employers to stand up for equality whenever it's
challenged. This sort of direct intervention will make a real
difference to millions of people. We're delighted that our
Diversity Champions - including global employers like Ernst &
Young, Barclays and P&G - are committed to the same
Out Now is presenting a workshop called 'The Diversity Gap - Where
Policy Meets Workplace Reality' in London on July 5, 2012 at the
Out & Equal Global LGBT Workplace Summit. Further LGBT2020
research will be released at that workshop by Out Now, including
the first ever homophobia workplace data for LGBT workers in
Turkey, India, Israel - and more. Registration details are online
Data source: Out Now Global LGBT2020 Study