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Lesbian,Gay,Bisexual & Transgender Conference 2005
18 November 2005

Conference welcomes the growing recognition of the need to combat discrimination against LGBT workers and the agreements reached with some employers to integrate work towards LGBT equality into their equality programmes.

Conference notes that the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 introduced a requirement on public authorities to monitor workers’ ethnicity, as part of the statutory duty to promote race equality. Similar duties to promote equality on grounds of disability and gender will also be coming in to force.

Conference further notes that some UNISON employers are seeking to introduce monitoring of workers’ sexual orientation and / or gender history, although this is not a statutory requirement.

Conference recognises that some of the benefits of monitoring for LGBT staff include:

1. The recognition of our presence in the workplace;

2. Raising our visibility within the workplace instead of pretending we don’t exist;

3. It will allow large employers to identify differences between work locations and progress over time.

Conference also recognises that workplace monitoring, even though it is becoming more widely accepted, does have some limitations and dangers:

A. We have no useful data from local communities to use as a comparator;

B. The mere presence of LGBT staff in itself doesn’t provide us with information on whether they are out or not and on the level of homophobia staff experience;

C. Concerns over preserving anonymity for LGBT staff who complete a monitoring form.

Conference believes that while workforce monitoring can play an effective part in a successful equalities strategy, it is too often embarked on with no clear thought as to its purpose. This results in merely the collection of data.

Conference notes substantive differences between a person’s ethnicity or gender and their sexual orientation or gender identity. These include the fact that many LGBT workers conceal their sexual orientation or gender history in an attempt to avoid discrimination and harassment, and the fact that people’s naming of their own sexual orientation/gender history often changes over the course of their working life.

Conference welcomes the detailed TUC guidance on monitoring LGBT workers, which sets out principles that must be established before unions agree to the introduction of such monitoring.

In view of this Conference believes that where employers do undertake such monitoring that the following are essential:

I. Steps are taken to ensure the anonymity of staff responses is maintained;

II. The employer makes a clear commitment to promoting LGBT equality in employment and service provision and everyone should be clear why monitoring for sexual orientation and gender identity is being carried out, and what will be done with the results

III. Full consultation with staff side unions;

IV. Consultation with any LGBT employee groups;

V. A commitment to maintaining confidentiality for those who choose to respond, while respecting the right of those not wishing to do so.

Conference endorses these principles and calls on all UNISON negotiators to seek to ensure that workforce monitoring of sexual orientation and gender identity is only introduced if these points have been achieved.