Vodafone is committed to providing a safe and inclusive work environment where everyone is respected with the development of a new programme following the results of an independently run survey.
Vodafone commissioned international research company Out Now to survey 3,000 LGBT+ youth across 15 countries and multiple industries with enlightening results. Vodafone New Zealand worked with charity InsideOUT to distribute the survey throughout Aotearoa and contribute to the final results.
The research found more than half (58%) of young LGBT+ people are not open about their sexual orientation or gender identity at work because they worry they will face discrimination from managers and colleagues, with 1 in 3 (31%) LGBT+ people admitting they went ‘back into the closet’ when they started their first job. This figure rises to 41% among 18-25 year olds.
The reasons young LGBT+ people feel unable to be out or open at work include: worrying that colleagues will react negatively (60%); fearing their career prospects will be worse (42%); and feeling they will be less likely to get promoted (33%). Many of those surveyed said that not being open about their LGBT+ status had negative repercussions, with nearly one third (28%) saying they had been less productive at work as a result.
The Vodafone/Out Now research also found more than half (51%) of those surveyed said that they were ‘not out at all’ to their direct manager in their first job, and 37% were not out at all to their colleagues. These figures fall to 13% and 8% respectively in their current jobs, highlighting the need for more support when young people first start work.
Vodafone New Zealand HR Director and Executive Sponsor of the company’s Rainbow Whānau employee network, Antony Welton, said:
“We now have the data that supports what we suspected, that Kiwi workplaces are still not as accepting as we would hope. There are always critical moments when someone makes a choice about whether they want to be open about themselves with others. If we can ensure that there is a supporting environment at those moments of truth then more people will be able to be themselves.”
To help create a culture where employees can be open about their sexual orientation and gender identity, Vodafone is launching:
- LGBT+ inclusive messaging on Vodafone job adverts and career channels
- A global ’buddying’ programme for LGBT+ graduates;
- A refreshed Code of Conduct which will support LGBT+ inclusivity;
- Graduate, induction and leadership training programmes to support, retain and help attract LGBT+ employees;
- Toolkit for managers to create an LGBT+ inclusive workplace and
- An interactive learning programme for ally accreditation.
For Vodafone NZ Rainbow Whānau Chairperson, Darren Mendonsa, the new programme means that LGBT+ employees can confidently be themselves.“Businesses have an important role to play in fostering social change for LGBT+ people, and that begins with our people being the best they can be. While LGBT+ people may not represent the majority of the population in New Zealand, a vast majority of people would know a sibling, relative or friend that may be LGBT+, so with workplaces like ours encouraging the learning of what matters to LGBT+, everyone wins and as a business we can start to influence social change starting from within,” Darren said.
Vodafone has a zero tolerance stance on homophobic, biphobic and transphobic discrimination, and works closely with leading diversity and inclusion NGOs on the development of materials and programmes for each of its local and international initiatives.Other findings from the research included:
- 1 in 5 (21%) said that being out or open at work is the ‘hardest thing they’ve done’
- Three quarters (76%) of LGBT+ employees have hidden their sexual orientation or gender identity at work at least once.
- Only 29% of LGBT+ women aged 18-35 are out at work today compared with 44% of men, for fear of discrimination.
- 83% said that clear and visible signs from managers that they take LGBT+ inclusion seriously are important in helping them to feel comfortable to be out or open at work.
- 83% would prefer to work for an employer that has visible LGBT+ leaders, and LGBT+ friends, allies and supporters.
Full set of survey results, video and infographics available to download here.