Developing an Effective LGBT Equality Strategy for Energy

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2006 Energy Service Group Conference
15 March 2006

Conference welcomes the growing recognition of the need to combat discrimination against LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) workers and the agreements reached with some energy employers to integrate work towards LGBT equality into their equality programmes. Conference further notes that some energy employers are seeking to introduce monitoring of workers’ sexual orientation and / or gender history, although this is not a statutory requirement.

While there can be some benefits to monitoring within the electricity and gas industries, Conference registers its concern that monitoring of LGBT staff may be introduced without prior meaningful consultation with trade unions. Further, there are some limitations and dangers in monitoring, which are not always being considered before it is introduced:

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

·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;

·Concerns over preserving anonymity for LGBT staff that 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 and a risk of ‘outing’ staff if confidentiality issues have not been adequately considered prior to the introduction of monitoring.

So that Energy branches can be better placed to negotiate on this issue, we call on the Energy Service Group Executive to:

1.Promote to Energy branches the availability of detailed TUC guidance on monitoring LGBT workers, which sets out principles that must be established before unions agree to the introduction of such monitoring;

2.Make Energy branches aware of the ‘Model Statement on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity’ document produced by the National LGBT Committee;

3.Ask Energy branches to ensure that all employers make a clear commitment to promoting LGBT equality in employment and service provision, and that everyone should be clear why monitoring for sexual orientation and gender identity is being carried out, what will be done with the results, and agree what steps are taken to ensure the anonymity of staff responses is maintained;

4.Ensure that branches request full consultation with staff side unions and any LGBT employee groups before the implementation of workplace monitoring.

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