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    Information and resources for Tasmanian parents and families of young people who are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Sexuality Diverse and Gender Diverse.

     Linking Tasmanians with local LGBTI-inclusive services, support and information.

     

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    In the Workplace 

    Some facts and figures

    Workplace Harassment and Discrimination

    • been the subject of harassment or discrimination in their current employment. 52.8%
    • ridiculed in front of colleagues or subject to homophobic remarks/jokes in the workplace. 50.3%
    • been the subject of aggressive, inappropriate or unwelcome questions about their status 28.3%
    • 'outed' in the workplace against their will. 21.7%
    • experienced verbal abuse, including threats of physical and sexual abuse. 11.3%
    • felt that their careers had probably been restricted because of their homosexuality. +17%


    How homophobia hurts workplaces

    Sexuality discrimination and homophobia are usually hidden, ignored and brushed aside in our society. However, most of us have seen and heard people - at work, at home, or elsewhere - demonstrating their intolerance of people with a different sexual orientation or gender identity, or people who are perceived to have a different sexual orientation or gender identity. 

    This kind of discrimination can damage people's job security, work performance, and their health. It violates their right to be treated with respect, dignity and fairness. Sexuality and gender discrimination can also affect other employees, managers and employers because it contributes to reduced productivity, increased drop-out rates, stress levels, absenteeism, resignations and loss of precious skills. 

    The Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Act requires that Tasmanian work places are free from discrimination. This includes discrimination based on 'sexual orientation or lawful sexual activity'. With the rising awareness of the effects of homophobia, more and more people are wanting to know how they can contribute to making their workplace as free from discrimination as possible. 


     

    Different forms of workplace homophobia


    Hiding one's sexual orientation and/or pretending to be straight for fear of unequal treatment or harassment. Concealing one's true self can lead to:

    • Inability to talk about one's private life
    • Problems asking for consideration when a partner is ill
    • Constant pressure of being "on guard"
    • Harassment in the form of jokes and innuendos, homophobic comments, threats to "out" a person
    • Fear of reporting harassment and of not being taken seriously; being accused of over-sensitivity, of lacking a sense of humour, of "bringing it on themselves"
    • Not having access to spousal entitlements in areas like parenting leave, relocation allowances or superannuation



     

    What employees can do to promote equality in the workplace


    Individual employees can stop discrimination and harassment in the work place by using these simple strategies:

     

    • Don't tolerate homophobic behaviours and attitudes, challenge those who make slurs, jokes or other comments or who do things that demean or attack people on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity, or their perceived sexual orientation or gender identity;
    • use inclusive language that does not assume all people are of the same sexual orientation (for example, inviting 'partners' to team social events rather than husbands and wives);
    • treating all people who you work with fairly, respectfully and valuing peoples contributions regardless of their sexual orientation;
    • be prepared with what you might say in response to discriminatory comments. For example, you could say:
      • 'Sexuality isn't important. What is important is that workers fulfil their job requirements'.
      • 'What matters is that workers respect each other, are good workers and are committed to be the best they can be.
      • I've found that a person's sexual orientation/gender identity has nothing to do with these qualities.'
      • 'Our organisation has a non-discrimination policy that covers sexual orientation. As an employee, I abide by that policy'.


    What employers can do to promote equality
    Seven steps to creating better employment practices for lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender people (LGBT) 

    1. Build a culture of respect 
      - Provide leadership at all levels: make corporate and public statements against discrimination, 
        nominate your business for equal opportunity awards 
      - Invite and include same-sex partners in the company's social events
    2. Support the establishment of LGBT employee networks
    3. Tackle workplace bullying and harassment 
      - Adopt a policy that prohibits harassment on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression 
      - Make sure the policy includes effective complaints mechanisms
    4. Publicise, implement and monitor equality policies you adopt
    5. Provide relevant training to all employees
    6. Review terms of conditions of employment 
      - Grant employment, health and relocation benefits for same-sex partners 
      - Choose benefit providers (superannuation, life and health insurance companies) that are committed to equal treatment
    7. Recruit, select and promote fairly



     

    Sexuality and gender identity discrimination checklist


    The following checklist has been developed to assist state public service agencies to meet the requirements of the Anti-Discrimination Act when it comes to preventing discrimination on the grounds of sexuality and gender. Many apply equally to the private sector. 

    Discrimination 
    Does your service/agency/department have policies on harassment and discrimination? 

                  Yes                       No                       Unsure 

    Do these policies address discrimination on grounds of sexuality or transgender identity? 

                  Yes                       No                       Unsure 

    Does your service/agency/department promote acceptance of diversity in other ways (brochures, posters, books, music etc?) 

                  Yes                       No                       Unsure 

    Service Provision 
    Does your service provide a safe and welcoming environment for people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender? 

                  Yes                       No                       Unsure 

    Does your service/agency/department display its policy on harassment/human rights/discrimination to service users and staff, or communicate its position in other ways? 

                  Yes                       No                       Unsure 

    Do the registration or application forms of your service require answers to questions that are inappropriate for GLBT people such as married/de facto/divorced or allow for recognition of same sex relationships? 

                  Yes                       No                       Unsure 

    e Are your clients aware of their responsibility to meet the requirements of Tasmania's Anti Discrimination Legislation? 

                  Yes                       No                       Unsure 

    Does the physical environment of your service assist lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people to disclose or discuss their issues privately should they wish to or where it is appropriate for them to do so? 

                  Yes                       No                       Unsure 

    Does your service have a confidentiality agreement which covers staff and volunteers? 

                  Yes                       No                       Unsure 

    Human Resource Policy and Practice 
    Do the Human Resource forms of your service only recognise heterosexual relationships? 
    (e.g. married/single/de facto) 

                  Yes                       No                       Unsure 

    Do Human Resource Policies recognise same sex relationships in the following instances: 
    Transfer and relocation policies and allowances 

                  Yes                       No                       Unsure 

    Parenting, family, carers and bereavement leave entitlements 

                  Yes                       No                       Unsure 

    Superannuation, including benefits payable on death or retirement 

                  Yes                       No                       Unsure 

    Accident and workers compensation and rehabilitation 

                  Yes                       No                       Unsure 

    Employee health insurance schemes 

                  Yes                       No                       Unsure 

    Policies or arrangements for holidays 

                  Yes                       No                       Unsure 

    Salary packages (flexible hours, vehicle use, travel and staff discounts) 

                  Yes                       No                       Unsure 


    Is there a system for raising complaints or highlighting inequity that individuals (staff or clients) can engage with without identifying themselves (suggestion box, telephone, website) 

                  Yes                       No                       Unsure 

    Is there a process for reviewing practices and policy that includes consideration of/input from gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender staff/clients? 

                  Yes                       No                       Unsure 

    If harassment or discrimination based on sexuality was occurring in your service would you know how to respond? 

                  Yes                       No                       Unsure 

    Could you assist someone in pursuing a complaint of harassment or discrimination based on sexuality? 

                  Yes                       No                       Unsure 

    Program/Staff Development and Service Promotion 
    Does your service specifically promote itself to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people? 

                  Yes                       No                       Unsure 

    Are all staff in your service aware of their responsibility to meet the requirements of Tasmania's Anti Discrimination Legislation? 

                  Yes                       No                       Unsure