LGBTQ The new pay gap and what employers need to do about it

In today’s working world, pay parity is, in all respects, fundamentally expected. However, a recent survey confirms that LGBTQ people are being paid less than their non-LGBTQ counterparts.

Search on the internet for the term “pay gap” and there are, fighting for your attention, approximately 300,000 search results, all reporting the differences in pay between genders. Since the requirement was introduced for all companies with more than 250 relevant employees to report their gender pay gap by April 2018, we have been inundated with media reports of pay disparity.

However, another rather startling statistic that is beginning to gain traction, is the difference in pay based on sexual orientation.

Earlier this year, to coincide with Pride month, YouGov revealed its findings of a study which focused on the pay gap between heterosexual employees and employees from the LGBTQ community. It showed an annual deficit of £6,703 for LGBTQ employees compared to their counterparts.

A further 14% of respondents who were involved in the study said they feared that their chances of promotion would be negatively affected if they came out at work.

We need to accept that these statistics may be a little skewed given that it is not compulsory for employees to disclose their sexuality and, currently, it is said that a quarter of LGBTQ respondents are not open about their sexuality in the workplace.

There are plenty of reasons for why people do not want their sexuality revealed to the work place, and that is their absolute right, but without making disclosure mandatory, we will never truly know the extent of this gap.

Does the pay gap revealed by YouGov suggest that LGBTQ people are not holding the top roles and therefore not in the top paying positions in business? Does the survey suggest that LGBTQ employees are paid less in comparable roles? Other research indicates that gay men are often in managerial roles but to which there is a glass ceiling.

Conversely, a study from the US showed that gay women earn 9% more than heterosexual women. There are multiple reasons as to why this could be, one is perhaps erroneous stereotypes. But another is certainly the dramatic leaps that have been made in LGBTQ progress both in terms of social acceptance and support.

That being said, there is a tremendous way for employers still to go before we can all sleep easy. For example, one in three FTSE 100 companies failed to mention LGBTQ diversity issues in their latest annual reports and 17% of the companies who changed their Twitter logos to support Pride month did not mention LGBTQ in their annual report.

It is clear that more research is certainly needed in this area to have a more definitive understanding of the disparity and the reasons for it but what employers can now do is focus on creating a truly open and transparent working environment. Success will be where diversity and inclusion are embedded into a company’s values, policies and practices, thereby making it the norm, and demonstrating a long-term commitment to its workforce.


This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. © Shoosmiths LLP 2024.


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