No going backwards on LGBT+ equality in Energy

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2021 Virtual Special Energy Service Group Conference
15 April 2021

Conference acknowledges that even before Covid, equality was increasingly being seen as a luxury in many Energy workplaces, with some employers barely abiding by the law. There is now a risk of going backwards.

Conference recognises that equality is at the heart of UNISON, and that self organisation is an essential tool to achieving UNISON�s equality objectives.

Conference welcomes that many Energy branches recognise the importance of self organisation.

Conference further welcomes that many Energy branches have Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender plus (LGBT+) officers, allowing LGBT+ equality to be raised at branch committee meetings and assisting branches to bargain with employers to make their workplaces more inclusive.

Conference recognises that Energy service group rules, language and practices that are inclusive to our LGBT+ members are vital for us to achieve our equality objectives. Likewise, it is vital that all Energy branches demand that employers consider the impact of policies and practices on LGBT+ staff.

Conference further recognises that discrimination faced by LGBT+ people at work remains persistent and widespread and notes there is a still a significant lack of knowledge, particularly about trans equality, among many employer HR departments and leads.

Additionally, Conference notes with concern that the TUC reported in 2019, that nearly seven in ten LGBT+ people reported being sexually harassed at work, yet two thirds didn�t report it to their employer. One in four of those who didn�t report it said it was because they were afraid of being �outed� at work.

Conference further notes that 2018 National Delegate Conference called on the National Executive Council to work with the self organised groups, regions and branches to continue to work towards making UNISON recruitment and organising, advice, negotiations, campaigns, services, communications and language inclusive of non-binary members. Non-binary people are people whose gender identity is not solely male or female. The ability to be yourself at work impacts on your work performance, your relationships with colleagues and your health, both mental and physical. This is clearly a trade union issue, and there is still much to do, including within the Energy Sector.

Conference recognises that the many barriers to challenging discriminatory behaviour often stem from a lack of information, education, support and firm policies in the workplace. It is essential that there are allies in workplaces for all LGBT+ identities. It welcomes the development of the new UNISON trans ally and LGBT+ ally training programmes, aimed at giving all non-LGBT+ members the opportunity to explore what it means to be an ally and to identify ways of creating an inclusive working environment for everyone.

Conference therefore calls on the Energy Service Group Executive, working in liaison with the national LGBT+ committee, to keep LGBT+ equality centre stage in bargaining and:

1. Encourage the negotiation of inclusive language in agreements and policies, and of inclusive practices and procedures, across the service group;

2. Urge branches to use UNISON�s trans equality guide and model policy, along with the LGBT+ bargaining factsheets and guide to non-binary inclusion to review policies and agreements with employers with a view to achieving best practice;

3. Urge branches where employers have no trans equality policy to seek to negotiate the adoption of UNISON�s model policy;

4. Circulate guidance for branches on key areas of work on all aspects of equality including inclusive language;

5. Promote UNISON�s LGBT+ and Trans Ally training courses across the service group;

6. Promote the use of UNISON�s Trans Ally and Bi+ Ally leaflets to members across the service group;

7. Encourage branches to promote UNISON�s Bi+, Trans, Black LGBT+ and Disabled LGBT+ network meetings;

8. Encourage Energy branches to send delegates to UNISON�s LGBT+ annual conference.