05 / 2 / 2015 1.27pm
The Strategic Forum met on Thursday 29 January 2015, for the first time this year.
The key note speaker was Dr. Anna Einarsdóttir from the University of Hull Business School, her presentation was based on a completed research project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and carried out by researchers at the University of Manchester and Plymouth University into the experience of lesbians, gay men and bisexuals (LGBs’) on discrimination, bullying and harassment.
Based on a multi-method approach, combining a nationwide survey, interviews with LGBs, HR managers and union representatives, as well as focus groups with heterosexual employees – this provided important new insights into an often overlooked minority group.
Particular attention was given to the findings which emerged from one of the case studies undertaken within a large NHS trust.
Key findings included;
- Joke telling was seen as human nature and telling gay jokes was a sign of LGB acceptance in workplaces.
- Acceptance was also seen in the form of a ‘healthy curiosity’, namely that it was ok to be curious about work colleagues’ sexuality. Interestingly, the NHS focus groups showed a clear lack of understanding of bisexuality.
- Some interviewees felt pressured to ‘play down’ their sexuality to fit in, yet were surprised to find that some gay men thought it was an advantage to be the only gay man in their unit, as they would be looked after by their female colleagues.
- This was not the case for lesbians - in the absence of an LGB network,they were told that many LGBs looked out for each other.
- Managers were unwilling or unsure about handling any cases of harassment involving sexuality.
- Overall, LGBs in the NHS case study felt strongly that they did not want their sexuality to be disclosed to patients, possibly because many felt they were often exposed to homophobic comments or behaviour from patients and their relatives.
- Many of the interviewees also felt they were not always respected by their colleagues, with one reporting a comment from a colleague “you gay guys are very promiscuous aren’t you”. An inappropriate statement to make, but especially so from within the NHS.
- The study indicated that a large number of LGBs work in the NHS and that many gay men gravitate towards work in A&E and mental and sexual health specialisms.
For more details on the 'The Ups and Downs of LGBs Workplace Experiences' report.
The next meeting will be on Thursday 23rd April 2015.