Organising for LGBT Equality in the Community Sector

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2018 Community Service Group Conference
10 November 2017
Carried as Amended

Conference notes that UNISON carried out its second equality survey in summer 2017 and received just 743 responses (6.79%) from members stating that they worked in the community sector which is disappointing considering we are the fastest growing sector with over 60,000 members.

Of all respondents, 6% identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual and 0.4% identified as transgender or having a trans history. Among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) members, 67% had taken part in a branch LGBT group.

Worryingly, a third of respondents said that their employers did not keep them informed of equality policies and a staggering 41% said their employers had no organised equality training.

A third of members reported experiencing discrimination in the workplace of which nearly 5% was as a result of sexual orientation and just over 1% was as a result of gender identity.

Conference believes that this is just the tip of the iceberg and that with public bodies increasingly cutting their specialist equality functions, LGBT specific work is increasingly carried out in the community sector, with a number of LGBT groups and charities now significant regional and national employers. Many of these are not unionised, though some have individual staff in UNISON and other unions.

Conference further notes that with increasing competitiveness in the community sector, major charity and voluntary sector employers are acting more and more like private employers. There is a growing trend to move away from specific workers forums, such as staff LGBT forums, to generic open equality networks thereby providing the potential for workers with protected characteristics to be excluded. This therefore provides the opportunity to grow union self organisation.

Conference therefore urges the Community service group executive to encourage branches with community members to:

1)Publicise UNISON’s work for LGBT equality;

2)Use our many LGBT bargaining resources;

3)Promote participation in regional LGBT groups;

4)Seek to fill branch LGBT officer posts, and signpost them to resources, training and support available

5)Support local pride and other LGBT events, recognising their recruitment potential, in liaison with regional LGBT groups;

6)Act on the significant potential of LGBT organisation for recruitment and recognition agreements with community employers;

7)Encourage community members to complete this year’s Equality survey to enable a better representation from members working in the Community sector.