Brands urged to do more to support LGTBQIA+ staff; almost 50% still face discrimination

As brands wrap up their pride celebrations, nearly half of the LGBTQIA+ community are still experiencing discrimination in the workplace, according to The Body Shop’s inaugural Out for Love report.

The B-Corp certified cosmetics company last month published its findings, have conducted the research earlier this year in partnership with LGBQTIA+ youth organisation Minus18, with the data’s publication coinciding with the publication of the 2021 Census.

“We developed the Out for Love Report in partnership with Minus18 following the news that LGBTQIA+ voices weren’t acknowledged in the 2021 national census,” said The Body Shop’s APAC brand and activism director, Shannon Chrisp. “We’re tired of LGBTQIA+ voices being silenced and excluded from conversations and decisions that directly impact them.”

In partnership with YouGov, The Body Shop and LGBTQIA+ youth charity Minus18 surveyed almost 4000 members of the LGBTQIA+ community and their allies via in-store surveys and social media channels to understand the current experiences of LGBTQIA+ Australians.

Shannon Chrisp, APAC brand and activism director, The Body Shop

The findings revealed an uncomfortable reality that nearly half of those surveyed had experienced bullying, harassment or discrimination related to their gender identity or sexuality in their workplace or school, with two fifths having felt worried about applying for a job. A further 21% of participants felt that their workplace was not a safe and exclusive place for LGBTQIA+ employees.

For Chrisp, this is something that can and should be easily addressed by brands, starting with their internal policies.

“Brands need to ensure they are creating policies that are inclusive for all employees,” said Chrisp.

One tangible way that she explains The Body Shop has achieved this is through the recent introduction of pronoun pins for retail and head office staff, “as just one way our employees can feel accepted and wholly be themselves in the workplace”.

In terms of what actions the queer community is calling for from brands and employers, 87% stated they want workplace policies that explicitly include LGBTQIA+ people. Critically, only 37% of those survey believe there are formal channels in place that protect and recognise the rights of LGBTQIA+ members

“We also need to see more change from leaders, with 92% of LGBTQIA+ members and allies surveyed stating leaders in Australia aren’t doing enough to support the LGBTQIA+ community, and 89% surveyed saying leaders aren’t listening to the concerns of the LGBTQIA+ community. We need change from the top down and everyone has a role to play,” said Chrisp.

Micah Scott, CEO, Minus18

In addition to the Out for Love report, The Body Shop has doubled down on its commitment to the LGBTQIA+ community, releasing its ‘Work in Pride’ charter, created in consultation with LGBTQIA+ employees from The Body Shop Together Network. The initiative was launched across Australia, the UK and North America, following research from The Body Shop UK that found more than half of the LGBTQIA+ community confessed to acting differently at work compared to their personal lives to avoid discrimination.

The charter outlines a set of principles and initiatives to ensure LGBTQIA+ colleagues and customers are accepted and supported, without exception, to be fully themselves in the workplace, and is a resource the brand encourages other businesses to reference to inform their own approach towards LGBTQIA+ inclusion within the workplace.

The principles outlined in the charter include “equality of self-expression, the right for people to define their own identity and the brands commitment to equally honouring all family structures and relationships”.

Speaking to Minus18’s CEO, Micah Scott, the timing of the Out for Love survey couldn’t have been more pertinent, given the current political climate.

“LGBTQIA+ communities continue to be scrutinised in public discourse at alarming rates. The Marriage Equality postal vote, Religious Discrimination Bill, and most recently the targeting of transgender students during the federal election are all events affecting young people while excluding them from the conversation. The team at Minus18 posed the challenge to The Body Shop to use their platform to launch a nationwide survey for LGBTQIA+ youth to be heard, and we’re excited to use the findings from the Out For Love Report to inform our future work empowering the next generation of LGBTQIA+ young leaders across Australia.”

Scott also reinforced that brands should take responsibility to do the right thing when it comes to supporting the LGBTQIA+ community in meaningful ways.

“Creating a society that is safe and inclusive for the LGBTQIA+ community is a job for everyone. Seeing brands and businesses do this authentically can spark important conversations at home, show powerful visible allyship and, when coupled with the right work internally, create safe employment opportunities for LGBTQIA+ young people,” he said.

Doing the work internally is an important step for brands who choose to engage with LGBTQIA+ issues in their marketing activities must see as the bare minimum, if they do not wish to be perceived as engaging in rainbow washing.

“Celebrating the LGBTQIA+ community should always start internally, ensuring that as an organisation the work is done to support your team members meaningfully, before driving a message or campaign that might not align with the workplace culture,” said Scott.


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