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DIVERSITY CHAMPIONS SCOTLAND 10 th December 2008 Lesbian and Bisexual Women in the Workplace.

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Presentation on theme: "DIVERSITY CHAMPIONS SCOTLAND 10 th December 2008 Lesbian and Bisexual Women in the Workplace."— Presentation transcript:

1 DIVERSITY CHAMPIONS SCOTLAND 10 th December 2008 Lesbian and Bisexual Women in the Workplace

2 Schedule 1.30pm Registration and lunch 2.00pm Welcome from Scottish Government, Hilary Third 2.05pmIntroduction from Stonewall Scotland, Calum Irving 2.15pmKey research findings, Nathanael Miles, Stonewall 2.35pmWomens experiences in the workplace Evie McLaren and Emma Harvey, Scottish Government LGBT Network 2.55pmRecommendations for employers, Nicola Swan, Stonewall Scotland 3.05pmQuestion and answer session 3.30pm Close and refreshments

3 The double-glazed glass ceiling Lesbians in the workplace Nathanael Miles Policy Officer

4 What did we do? Interviewed 22 lesbians about their experience in the workplace. Drawn from: –Organisations – women open about their sexual orientation and engaged in initiatives –Organisations – women open about their sexual orientation but not engaged in initiatives –Informal networks / social groups – women who were not open about their sexual orientation

5 I am a woman first I think that in many situations women have enough challenge just from a gender perspective to try and get ahead in the workplace. I think the fact that weve still got such inequality in womens pay and remuneration compared with their male colleagues shows that weve still got a way to go just as women. Jacqui, private sector

6 …and a lesbian second As a woman youve already got one strike against you in terms of a diversity box that you check. As a lesbian thats the second one as well. If youre an ethnic minority lesbian then youve got three. As a woman and as an ethnic minority you cant hide that, but theres no reason to foreground the fact that youre gay as well. People feel that its hard enough. Georgia, private sector

7 Anxiety… I worked there for five years and I never made a single friend because there was such a huge bit of my life that I wasnt talking about…It was very distracting to have everybody assuming I was this frumpy little sexless spinster who couldnt form a human relationship. Laura, private sector

8 Just because I dont talk about it, doesnt mean that Im not thinking about it. I worry about it across the bases. I worry about peoples reaction. Youre talking to someone whos the equivalent of your father in age, like my senior manager, and if you tell them youre gay you just think my god, it could all go horribly wrong. It could all go horribly wrong career wise. Lucy, private sector

9 I see women around the organisation who you instantly paint as lesbians and I think, well, you are going to have to look a little different if you are going to move on here. Alice, private sector

10 Making it work: I get respect for having the guts to be out. If youre visibly out it carries with it a sense of integrity and honesty that sort of spills over into peoples view of how you deal with difficult situations generally, so it makes you seem good leadership material. In terms of leveraging your career youd be surprised how a bit of forceful talking about it raises your profile. Laura, private sector

11 I often wonder if lesbians are more willing to play men at their own game. They dont have to cope with the stereotypical notion of masculinity versus femininity. I think that there is a much more blurred boundary for us. Whereas some women would be very uncomfortable going into meetings and behaving in certain fashions, I would have absolutely no compunction about doing it. I definitely see that in all the lesbians Ive worked with; theyre more willing to engage men on their level rather than at a female level. Alice, private sector

12 I think Ive been successful at mirroring the behaviours of people who are successful. You could argue that maybe thats because lesbians have to be shape- shifters and they do have to try harder to get in and maybe they are used to self- editing. Anya, public sector

13 So where are the lesbians? Am I the only lesbian? Are there any senior lesbians? How do I network anyway? Whats the point of a staff group? Whats it got to do with the workplace? Why would I want to socialise with gay men?


15 High importance attached to professional development Is it going to help my career? Womens networks more learning focused: – High profile speaker events – Opportunities to network with other women – Practical workshops in leadership and confidence building 1. Provide professional development opportunities

16 2. Increase visibility – support role models and develop opportunities for mentoring Few openly gay women in the workplace Contrasts with relative visibility of gay men Visible, open lesbian and bisexual female leaders encourages others to be out Mentoring suggested as means of supporting gay women

17 2. Increase visibility – support role models and develop opportunities for mentoring I think role models are absolutely integral... Somebody actually having the confidence to come out sends an entirely different message through the organisation and that person becomes a good role model, not just for the lesbian and gay community, but for all of the diverse communities really. Georgia, private sector

18 Joint activity between employers to arrange women only networking events and share role models External meetings Regional or sectoral approach Effort required at local level to improve engagement 3. Network across sectors

19 For me its about network building more than anything else. Seeing women who have got on, seeing how theyve done it. Alice, private sector I think that there is a real space for cross-sector networking. Because of the numbers and also because I think actually if you can do it and you can do it well, you can really develop the profiles of the role models beyond their organisation. Georgia, private sector 3. Network across sectors

20 4. Individual contact from female colleagues LGB employee networks dominated by men Personal contact between female chair or co- chair at the network and women who express an interest in joining Developing more inclusive and welcoming tone to events and networks

21 5. Think about the tone of network group events Ensure employee network groups are inclusive: – Vary the events – not just drinking! – Vary the timings of events. Meeting during office hours is actually more suitable for a lot of women Offer women-only spaces

22 5. Think about the tone of network group events When weve done, for example, a non gay male venue event, weve had a good turnout. We had a ladies dinner; that almost got 100 per cent attendance... It was successful because it was smaller, it was all women and I think it gave them an opportunity to meet people they really wanted to spend time with and get to know; that is other lesbians. Nicola, private sector

23 6. Think about internal and external communications Targeted communications Ensure you also feature women in recruitment and advertising, intranet sites Images and messages relevant and inclusive for gay women Increase profile of successful, senior lesbian and bisexual women

24 7. Make womens networks inclusive Many women we spoke to are involved with womens networks, but... Womens networks can exclude gay women Ensure womens networks have content which is relevant for lesbians and bisexual women

25 7. Make womens networks inclusive I suspect gay women might feel more comfortable about engaging in things that are about their gender first rather than their sexual orientation. Jacqui, private sector I would not say there is any part of the womens network that even begins to recognise gay females. Nicola, private sector

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