Legal services sector: Good progress on LGBT+…
A landmark survey into the experiences of LGBT+ lawyers and LGBT+ equality in the profession conducted by the Law Society of England and Wales has identified significant progress, but more is needed.
During LGBT+ History Month 2021, LGBT+ legal professionals and colleagues who consider themselves allies to the LGBT+ community, were invited to take part in an online survey about their experiences of being LGBT+ or an ally in the legal sector. There were 617 individual responses to the survey, with 62% identifying as LGBT+.
To achieve the full value of diversity, workplaces must be inclusive; enabling people to be themselves, share ideas and contribute diverse perspectives.
The survey revealed that a majority of LGBT+ respondents (97%) felt able to be themselves at work – either sometimes (44%) or always (53%).
LGBT+ legal professionals were also more likely to report positive rather than negative experiences in their workplaces – positive experiences commonly related to the availability of formal and informal networks, whilst negative experiences were associated with a lack of visible LGBT+ role models.
In the survey, 82% of LGBT+ legal professionals indicated they were out to colleagues, and 38% were out to clients. This is an increase on 2009 survey findings where 63% of respondents were out to colleagues and 24% were also out to clients.
The 2021 survey revealed that:
Several senior respondents reflected on their feelings of responsibility as someone in a senior role, to be a positive force for change – this is welcome given the wider survey findings about a need for visible role models.
The majority (91%) of LGBT+ respondents reported having colleagues who were not LGBT+ themselves, but who were supportive and active allies for LGBT+ equality in the workplace. 47% said they had “a lot” of allies and 44% said they had “a few”.
Two-thirds of respondents were members of at least one LGBT+ workplace or professional network. A lack of awareness was the most commonly cited reason for not being a member of a network (32%).