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Celebrating LGBTQ+ History Month in the UK

Published 27th Feb 24 - by bertasantos

Written by Saira Khan and Edited by Cathryn Greville.

LGBTQ+* History Month is a dedicated period of reflection, celebration and education that takes place annually, in February, in the United Kingdom. During this month the focus is on acknowledging and commemorating the rich history and diverse experiences of the LGBTQ+ community. This is essential in fostering inclusion, correcting historical oversights, and highlighting the ongoing struggle for LGBTQ+ rights.

At the Supply Chain Sustainability School, our Fairness, Inclusion, and Respect (FIR) Programme recognises the significance of surveys and data collection, especially during LGBTQ+ History Month. Delving into the results of our Diversity Data Benchmarking Survey, we aim to unravel the challenges and successes encountered by LGBTQ+ workers across the built environment sector. As the industry’s most extensive survey of its kind, our analysis of LGBTQ+ data within the Diversity Survey becomes a crucial tool for gaining insights into the LGBTQ+ experience and representation.

LGBTQ+ people and the built environment:

A notable trend in our annual data analysis reveals a positive shift in the percentage of employees identifying as part of the LGBTQIA+ community. Over the past year, this figure has increased from 1.7% in 2022 to 2.04% in 2023. While this still falls short of the Office for National Statistics (ONS) recorded value of 3.1%, the upward trajectory signals an encouraging future where more people are feeling comfortable confirming their LGBTQ+ identity.

To enhance the accuracy and inclusivity of our data, this year saw the incorporation of additional identity options. The introduction of asexual, pansexual and queer categories aligns with the ONS data points, broadening the spectrum of self-identification. As these options become more widely acknowledged and accepted, we anticipate a more comprehensive representation of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities in future datasets.

Recognising the importance of providing individuals with nuanced identity choices, we encourage organisations to adopt these expanded categories in their data collection processes. By actively including asexual, pansexual, and queer, alongside the option to select ‘other’, businesses can foster a workplace environment that respects and acknowledges the diverse identities within the LGBTQ+ community. This not only aligns with the principles of equality and inclusion but also ensures that data collection accurately reflects the richness of experiences within the workforce. Embracing and promoting these inclusive practices is a vital step towards creating workplaces that truly celebrate the diversity of the LGBTQ+ community.

In our data analysis, we’ve noted a significant 11% decrease in the unknown percentage related to individuals’ sexual orientation since 2021, showcasing a positive trend in organisations’ commitment to comprehensive diversity data. Simultaneously, there has been a 7.1% increase in the ‘prefer not to say’ category, suggesting a nuanced dynamic where employees, for various reasons, are becoming more hesitant to disclose their sexual orientation. This underscores the importance of fostering environments that prioritise transparency and trust, encouraging open dialogue about sexual orientation in the workplace for more accurate and representative data. Gathering data on individuals’ sexual orientation in surveys is vital for fostering fairness, inclusion and respect and understanding diverse populations. This information helps organisations identify disparities, implement targeted policies, and create supportive environments for all.

Historically, people have been reluctant to disclose their sexual orientation in surveys due to societal prejudices and stigmatisation. Fear of backlash or discrimination has led many to hide this aspect of their identity. Encouraging open dialogue, destigmatising diverse sexual orientations, and ensuring survey response confidentiality are crucial steps in overcoming historical reluctance and obtaining accurate and representative data.

LGBTQ+ History Month goes beyond commemorating the past; it’s a call to action and an invitation to explore the stories of those facing adversity, discrimination and persecution. It’s not just about recognising progress but also acknowledging ongoing challenges. Surveys, like our annual Diversity Survey, play a vital role in identifying and resolving these challenges. By collecting data, we contribute to a comprehensive understanding of the LGBTQ+ community’s current experiences and representation within the built environment. The survey offers a contemporary snapshot, amplifying voices that might have been historically silenced and providing insights to guide future initiatives during and beyond LGBTQ+ History Month.

Our Diversity Survey is also crucial for documenting and preserving our past. Data captures provide a tangible record of the LGBTQ+ community’s journey, capturing the subtleties of societal attitudes and showcasing the evolution of acceptance and inclusion over time. By exploring individuals’ experiences through such targeted research, we not only honour past stories but also contribute to a living archive that shapes our understanding of history. In essence, research such as the Diversity Survey can become dynamic tools for promoting inclusivity, challenging stereotypes and advancing the ongoing pursuit of equality for all -both in the present and as a lasting record of our shared LGBTQ+ history.

* LGBTQ+ refers to the acronym for lesbian, gay, bi, trans, queer, questioning and ace.

If you would like to learn more about our Diversity Survey or the extensive resources available to help you implement fairness, inclusion and respect (FIR) in your organisation, please contact the Fairness, Inclusion & Respect (FIR) Programme team at [email protected] and follow us FIR on LinkedIn or X (Twitter).