Almost half of LGBTQI+ workers say they have faced discrimination or prejudice at work due to their sexuality or gender identity, according to research from Randstad UK, with worrying signs emerging that inclusivity in the workplace has stalled.

Almost a third of LGBTQI+ employees surveyed said the discrimination they faced at work had become worse in the past five years, with almost 40 percent saying they felt more isolated in their workplace than they did five years ago.

In a poll of 350 workers in the UK undertaken in April, just under half (47%) agreed with the statement: “Throughout my career, I have faced discrimination or prejudice at work due to my sexuality or gender identity.”

Almost four in every ten (38%) people surveyed said they believed their sexuality or gender identity has affected their remuneration. Respondents who identified as male were more likely to report that their sexuality or gender-identity had impacted their remuneration or progression, compared to only 35 percent of those who identified as female.

Long-term careers are affected

More than a third (36%) said their sexuality or gender identity has negatively affected their long-term career.

Discrimination is clearly not a thing of the past either, with four in ten (41%) worried discrimination would hold back their career progression in the future, too.

Victoria Short, the chief executive of Randstad UK, said: “These findings are a stark reminder that discrimination against LGBTQI+ workers remains a significant issue in the workplace. It’s unacceptable that nearly half of LGBTQI+ employees have faced prejudice and it’s particularly concerning that many believe this has affected their pay and career progression. We need to commit to fostering inclusive environments where every individual can thrive, regardless of their sexuality or gender identity. It’s time to turn these statistics around and ensure equality and respect for all in the workplace.”


Employers are being affected, too, with 43 percent of employees agreeing with the statement: “I have been less motivated or productive at work because I can’t be myself”.

More than a third of employees said they preferred to work remotely due to their workplace not being an inclusive environment. And 42 percent of respondents said they did not feel comfortable talking about their sexuality or gender identity at work.

Almost a third (32%) reported having quit a job because of how uncomfortable they felt in the workplace, due to their sexuality or gender identity.

Employers are also losing out on potential new hires — 40 percent of respondents said they had been too afraid of discrimination to apply for a job.

Victoria Short said: “These results should be a massive wake-up call for employers. When 43 percent of workers feel less motivated because they can’t be themselves at work, it’s clear that inclusivity is not just a moral imperative — it’s a business one. Employers are missing out on having staff in the office because they’re working remotely to avoid it. Employers are missing out on retaining top talent because they are leaving the organisation. Employers are even missing out on potential candidates because their talent pool is smaller than it should be. We must act now to foster inclusivity and support every individual to be their authentic selves at work.”


Most worrying were some of the trends reported. More than a quarter of respondents (27%) said the discrimination they faced at work had become worse in the past five years. And almost two in five (39 per cent) said they felt more isolated in their workplace now then they did five years ago.

Victoria Short said: “These trends are really troubling and highlight how much work the country needs to do. That a quarter of respondents have experienced worsening discrimination over the past five years is deeply concerning. Additionally, with four in ten of our respondents feeling more isolated now than they did five years ago, it’s clear that progress toward inclusivity has stalled — or even reversed — in some areas. As business leaders and employers, we must redouble our efforts to combat discrimination and foster environments where everyone feels included and valued. This is not just about policy, but about creating a culture of respect and support for all employees.”


Half of respondents (50 per cent) said that “My employer’s contribution to Pride and LGBTQI+ initiatives feel tokenistic”. For those who chose not to identify as male or female, more than seven in ten (71%) said that they believe this to be the case.

Almost two-thirds, (65%) said they believed their employer needs to introduce internal policies for a more inclusive workplace — such as inclusive job ads, training or business resource groups.

While a small majority (58%) believed their employer needs to take a stance on LGBTQI+ issues in a public forum ― via media engagement or social media activity (58%) — a larger number (66 per cent) wanted their employer to take a stance on LGBTQI+ issues internally.

Almost seven in ten (69%) agreed that “The responsibility for fostering an inclusive environment for LGBTQI+ workers lies with my employer”.

Victoria Short said: “It’s no good making changes to look good — or just to do what is expected of the business — if you aren’t committed to making deeper, worthwhile changes. LGBTQI+ employees want their employers to take an authentic stand on this internally and externally as well as introducing the right policies within the organisation and fostering an inclusive environment.”


The research highlighted some more positive trends. More than half of respondents said they have LGBTQI+ role models in their workplace (51%).

A larger proportion reported that their colleagues are active allies for the LGBTQI+ community (58%) — while 54 percent described the leadership of their organisation as “active allies for the LGBTQI+ community”.

More than three in five (62%) of those polled agreed with the statement: “My employer has taken meaningful action to create an equitable workplace for LGBTQI+ employees”.





Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.