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Social> Diversity 30 Nov 2023

Four out of ten Spanish companies have an open and welcoming work environment for LGBT+ people

LGBT+ diversity is already the third-highest priority in corporate projects, behind only gender equality and inclusion of people with disabilities. Half of major Spanish companies have LGBT+ diversity programs. This figure drops to 34% in the case of IBEX 35-listed companies. These are some of the findings of the first major survey that looks at business management of LGBT+ diversity in Spain, promoted by BBVA, REDI and UN Global Compact Spain.

4 de cada 10 empresas españolas presenta un clima laboral muy abierto y naturalizado con personas LGTBI

Diversity management in general is already a reality in the corporate environment. Companies recognize that diversity promotes a more inclusive corporate culture, enhanced innovation, growth and sustainability in their businesses. New diversity approaches have been incorporated in recent years that address specific needs within the workforce, such as generational differences, cultural diversity in a globalized context, different ways of thinking and work styles, as well as the diversity represented by LGBT+ people.

Despite this, a third of the companies surveyed acknowledged that LGBT+ people do not have equal employment opportunities. Precisely, the report, in which 181 companies took part, arose with the aim of understanding to what extent organizations are familiar with the inclusion of this diversity, the value it plays in the work context and the importance it has for business and talent management. "The benefits of incorporating LGBT+ diversity management in the enterprise may seem obvious but for the first time we've been able to quantify it. This study draws the roadmap to follow in the coming years to create a more sustainable society and more inclusive work environments," said Ízaro Assa de Amilibia, Head of Diversity at BBVA and President of REDI, during the presentation of the findings of the survey.

"It's essential that all companies shoulder their responsibility and work together to promote equality and ensure that no one is left behind. Only then will we create a more sustainable world and a more diverse and inclusive business fabric," said Cristina Sánchez, executive director of UN Global Compact Spain. For his part, Óscar Muñoz, co-director of REDI, stated that "we need companies that are more involved in equality and human rights, and LGBT+ diversity is a litmus test. By raising the awareness of senior management and staff to be more inclusive, we can build better organizations and societies.”

This is demanded by employees themselves: in 34 percent of the companies in the survey, it was the employees who asked for programs of this kind. 'The management of LGBT+ diversity in Spain' aims to help companies and institutions to better understand, plan and manage LGBT+ diversity and inclusion, by providing conclusive data on the current degree of management of such diversity in organizations in Spain, their motivations and barriers. The paper also looks at the benefits obtained for corporate culture, the work environment and the image and visibility of the company.

LGBT+ diversity management is a recent but growing trend

Although 91 percent of the companies involved in the survey believe that there are no professional barriers to LGBT+ people (in selection processes, promotions, salaries), they do admit the existence of discriminatory situations with some frequency: use of non-inclusive language (38 percent), hostile work environment to make themselves visible (31 percent), rumors or comments about sexual orientation, identity or gender expression of colleagues (13 percent) or inappropriate jokes and comments (10 percent). The data show that these non-inclusive languages and behaviors make LGBT+ people forgo visibility, work and work-life balance rights such as marriage leave or parental leave.

LGBT+ diversity is already the third-highest priority in corporate projects (49 percent of surveyed companies), behind only gender equality (86 percent) and inclusion of people with disabilities (65 percent). With an average of 3 years, LGBT+ diversity has only recently been mainstreamed into corporate strategies but has great potential for growth thanks to legal developments in the field. If we look at IBEX 35 companies, it is striking that only 34 percent of those that participated in the survey are addressing LGBT+ diversity.

As next steps, the report suggests having an internal position responsible for diversity (only 58 percent have one), relying on benchmark guidelines such as the United Nations Standards of Conduct against discrimination of LGBT+ people, and working with organizations that advocate for these rights, such as UN Global Compact Spain and REDI. In fact, the survey shows that REDI member companies have a higher level of awareness of LGBT+ diversity. 73 percent of them actively manage LGBT+ diversity, while among non-members this figure is less than 23 percent. In addition, companies in the REDI ecosystem are significantly more active in managing all other diversities. This shows that to explicitly and openly support LGBT+ diversity, companies must have a significant diversity track record.

Asked about their reasons for taking this step, 94 percent of the companies surveyed say it reinforces their commitment to creating inclusive work environments, 49 percent do it for consistency with their corporate policy while 45 percent link it to legal compliance reasons.

Large companies are leading the cultural change with programs and actions in place (52 percent), while there is an opportunity for companies between 250 and 1,000 people (39 percent), with a lack of structure and adequate resources being the main barriers. However, the survey shows that in small enterprises, the size of the company allows almost all of its members to know each other and people are more likely to share and bond with each other. As the size of the company grows, the less inclusive the work climate seems to become towards LGBT+ people.

The survey results show that 41 percent of the companies have a very open and relaxed work environment with LGBT+ people, where it is completely natural to talk about this diversity and there are many normalized examples of this diversity. The visibility of trans people deserves special mention: 34 percent of very large companies acknowledge having visible trans people employed, while they are almost invisible in small businesses.

The proven benefits of LGBT+ diversity advocacy work

Of the companies surveyed that work with LGBT+ diversity, 80 percent said that they have managed to create safer and more inclusive spaces for LGBT+ people and a greater understanding of the reality of the community on the part of the workforce. 71 percent have seen positive changes in the corporate culture and 62 percent have seen positive changes in the work environment in general. These figures confirm that these policies improve the well-being of the workforce and, specifically, of LGBT+ people, who are up to 38 percent more visible and waive fewer corporate measures and benefits related to their labor rights. For example, in the case of parental leave, there is a substantial difference between employees who make use of this right in companies that work with LGBT+ diversity (30 percent) and those that do not, where the percentage drops to 13 percent.

As a result, the companies involved claim to have a stronger employer brand (57 percent), and to have improved their social impact (49 percent) and their regulatory compliance (36 percent) after implementing programs in favor of the target community.

These major breakthroughs confirm the need to continue working on LGBT+ diversity in the workplace. There are clear challenges ahead, such as the lack of visibility of the LGBT+ community, limited awareness, lack of resources and appropriate structure or inclusion of transgender talent.