Pride only goes so far

It’s Pride Month, when firms go out of their way to show how cool and groovy they are about LGBT* people. But beyond the posters and window displays, the picture is a lot less positive.

According to a survey of 1,000 employers, nearly half of employers would “probably” discriminate against trans job applicants.

That’s illegal. But just because it’s illegal doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.

Discrimination is rarely overt, and as a result it’s hard to challenge, let alone prove. You didn’t get the job because your interview skills weren’t great, not because you were visibly trans. Your temporary contract was terminated because that particular job was finished, not because your line manager thinks you’re a deviant. You were passed over for promotion because the other candidate had skills you don’t, not because the firm doesn’t want to send a trans person as its representative. And so on.

Some 47% of retail businesses surveyed said they were “unlikely to hire a trans person”; 45% of IT businesses said the same, with leisure and hospitality coming in at 35%. Even in the most inclusive industry, financial services, just 34% of employers said they were “agreeable” to hiring trans workers.

“Agreeable.” One-third of employers are “agreeable” to not breaking the law.

That’s bad enough, but what if many of them are lying? It’s a known problem with attitudinal surveys: while some people tell the truth, many tell the surveyor what they think that person wants to hear, or what they think will make them sound best.

That means the number of firms who’d actually hire trans people is probably even less.

Trans people get the shitty end of the stick in employment. Stonewall reports that around half of trans people hide their gender identity at work for fear of discrimination; of those who don’t, one-third have been verbally abused by customers or clients and 12% physically attacked.

Hiring is just the start. Firms that aren’t “agreeable” to abiding by anti-discrimination legislation are unlikely to be “agreeable” to providing a safe environment for trans staff. They’re unlikely to be “agreeable” to having policies against discriminatory behaviour by other employees. They’re unlikely to be “agreeable” to giving trans people fair consideration for promotion, or in the event of necessary job losses.

If nearly half of employers admit that they’d discriminate, you can be sure that the real problem is much, much worse.