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  • Writer's pictureSusan Wakelin

LGBTQ+ Community and Pride for Employers

June is the month of Pride each year and is dedicated to the LGBTQ+ community.

Pride Month

Pride Month is a celebration of the LGBTQ+ community, and the progress in its acceptance and equality. This is a great time for employers to learn more about the community and show their support, but how?

Equality act 2010

According to Amnesty International, transgender people can face up to 50 to 60 instances of micro-aggression or casual discrimination a day, some of which happens in the workplace.

In addition to this, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, LGB adults are more than twice as likely to experience mental health issues, and transgender people are nearly four times as likely.

The Equality Act protects all workers from discrimination due to their age, sex, race, disability, religion, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership and pregnancy and maternity, which are called protected characteristics.

Discrimination isn't just about how one person directly treats another person, but are broken down into:

  • Direct discrimination - being treated unfavourably because of any protected characteristics.

  • Indirect discrimination - being disadvantaged because of workplace policies or ways of working that discriminate against or exclude any protected characteristics.

  • Harassment - being offended, humiliated or degraded by someone because of any protected characteristics.

  • Victimisation - being treated badly for making or supporting a discrimination claim.

It is not uncommon for discrimination to arise without the employer realising, especially when discrimination is indirect. It is therefore important for employers to regularly review their own policies and procedures to ensure that they are inclusive to everyone.

LGBTQ+ language

It is difficult for employers to use the correct language when communicating with someone from the LGBTQ+ community, especially when terms used and issues faced are forever changing. It is therefore important for employers and individuals not to make assumptions about someone else and thereby make assumptions about the right language to use in relation to them.

The key is to be respectful and, if anybody asks you to refer to them in certain way, to do as they ask. This may sometimes feel strange to some people, but employers should support these requests in the workplace. Terms can vary and include:

  • Adjectives to describe gender

    • trans(gender) - a person whose gender identity does not correspond to that person’s sex assigned at birth, ie a trans man would have been assigned "female", but identify as male.

    • cis(gender) - a person whose gender identity corresponds with that person’s sex assigned at birth.

    • nonbinary - a gender identity that does not fit into either "male" or "female".

    • pangender - a gender identity that is not limited to one gender and may encompass all genders at once.

  • Gender confirming pronouns

    • he / him / his.

    • she / her / hers.

    • they / them / their.

  • Sexual and romantic attraction

    • bi(sexual) - a person who is sexually or romantically attracted to people of two or more genders.

    • pansexual or omnisexual - expressing sexuality in all its forms or involving sexual activity with people of any gender or with people regardless of their gender.

    • asexual - experiencing little or no sexual attraction to other people.

    • polyamorous - the practice or condition of participating simultaneously in more than one serious romantic or sexual relationship with the knowledge and consent of all partners.

LGBTQ+ terminology is complex and there are many more terms in addition to those listed above. That is why it is important for employers to be mindful of the language they use, whether in policies, formal meetings or general conversation, to ensure that they are being fully inclusive, such as:

  • Gendered greetings - use Hi all, folks, friends or everyone rather than Hey guys / ladies / gentlemen.

  • Invitations - use people's partner or spouse rather than girlfriends, boyfriends, wives, or husbands.

  • Gendered job roles and phrases - use best person for the job, humankind, chairperson, or bartender rather than best man for the job, mankind, chairman or barman.

  • Sexual preference - refer to someone's sexual preference as sexuality or sexual orientation rather than being a lifestyle choice or preference.

  • Gender pronouns - use they or them rather than he or she.


Although language is very important, employers should offer training to ensure that managers and employees understand and respect the policies and procedure they have in place to protect and support the LGBTQ+ community. Diversity training will help people to become aware of their own assumptions and prejudices and emphasises the importance of equality and diversity.

Employers should also ensure that their workers know what processes are in place to support them, especially where they themselves are being discriminated against.

SWan HR Consultancy (London and Kent)

SWan HR is an HR consultancy that specialises in HR support for small to medium sized businesses in the South East.

"Where HR Succeeds, the Business Achieves"

SWan HR was founded by Susan Wakelin, MCIPD, who is a qualified HR professional with over thirty years' experience, from setting up, auditing and improving HR functions to management coaching and supporting organisations through difficult situations, transformation and change.

SWan HR provides a broad range of tailored HR services including an HR audit, HR advice, HR outsourcing, HR coaching and project work for all businesses.

Free HR consultation

Contact Susan Wakelin now to take advantage of a free half-hour consultation to talk through your initial HR concerns and how you can manage these going forward.

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