Gay staff ‘suffer jobs market bias’

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Published: Thursday 18th December 2014 by The News Editor

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Gay and lesbian employees have lower job satisfaction and are more likely to be harassed in the workplace than heterosexual staff, researchers have claimed.

Economist Nick Drydakis investigated workplace discrimination, earnings and job satisfaction around the world and found that gay men earn less than their heterosexual colleagues.

Even in countries in the EU, Australia, Canada and the US, which have the strongest anti-discrimination laws, gay and lesbian people experienced more obstacles in getting a job, earning bias and harassment than their counterparts.

One surprising result was that, on average, lesbians earn more than heterosexual women in a number of countries, including the UK.

Dr Drydakis, from Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, said: “These findings imply that legislative protection constitutes only a small step toward improving the employment circumstances and general well-being of people who are gay or lesbian, and highlights the need for other policy interventions.

“Because most studies suggest that negative attitudes toward gay and lesbian employees are the source of labour-market bias against them, social planners should try to influence public opinion and people’s attitudes toward sexual-orientation minority groups.

“In addition to anti-discrimination legislation, improving the situation for sexual-orientation minorities will require policy actions, including formal equality of treatment in employment policies, anti-discrimination and anti-bullying campaigns, and affirmative action.

“In addition, firms should be encouraged to foster work environments in which gay and lesbian workers feel comfortable enough to be open about their sexual orientation.”

The report highlights that fewer than 20% of countries have adopted sexual orientation anti-discrimination laws in employment, and 2.7 billion people live in countries where being gay or lesbian is a crime.

It found that people who are open about their sexual orientation within the workplace are more likely to report higher job satisfaction than those who are not.

In the UK, lesbians earned 8% more than heterosexual women, with the gap increasing to 11% in Germany and 20% in the US.

However, gay men earn less than their male heterosexuals in all countries studied. In the UK average earnings are 5% lower, 9% lower in Germany and 16% lower in the US.

Dr Drydakis said: “A puzzling issue is the earnings premiums found for lesbian employees in some countries.

“Studies on access to job vacancies suggest that lesbians are more discriminated against during the initial stage of the hiring process than heterosexual women.

“Job satisfaction studies also suggest that lesbians are less satisfied with their jobs.

“There are no quantitative studies of the relationships among gender identity, personality characteristics, and labour market prospects for lesbians. So whether lesbian employees possess characteristics that enhance their attributes for job advancement and earnings is still unknown.”

Published: Thursday 18th December 2014 by The News Editor

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