4 February 2019

United Kingdom, London


  • Experience of mental health issues was a third higher among LGBT+ employees
  • Younger LGBT+ employees were found to be particularly vulnerable: 35% of 18-29-year-old LGBT+ employees hide or disguise who they are to avoid discrimination
  • 28% of LGBT+ CEOs/owners/managing directors/board members advised to hide their sexual orientation at work
  • Gay & bi+ carers aren’t accessing support as much as colleagues: 27% of gay and bi+ carers had accessed support from their line managers compared to 31% of gay/bi+ men without caring responsibilities and 38% of heterosexual carers

More than four out of five LGBT+ people (81%) have experienced a mental health issue, compared with 61% of the general workforce, according to new analysis released today by Business in the Community in partnership with Mercer and Santander, ‘Working with Pride’.


Just under half (46%) of LGBT+ people have been formally diagnosed with a mental health condition compared with 32% of the national workforce. This is significantly more pronounced in younger people with 69% of 18-29-year-old LGBT+ employees having had a formal diagnosis compared with 37% of the total workforce of the same age.


70% of LGBT+ people said that their mental health and wellbeing is affected by their personal job security, with the cost of living affecting the mental health of 82% of LGBT+. Anxiety relating to the uncertainty around Brexit was also found to be higher among LGBT+ staff than those in the general workforce (67% versus 53%).


Business in the Community’s Working with Pride report brings together standardised YouGov data from 600 LGBT+ employees from two reports recently published by Business in the Community: ‘Equal Lives’ (in partnership with Santander) and ‘Mental Health at Work 2018’ (in partnership with Mercer). The findings show that LGBT+ people are disproportionally more likely to have mental health issues and less likely to talk about them.


LGBT+ people make up between 2-5% of the population of the UK and sadly still experience high levels of discrimination in the workplace and significant health inequalities, especially around mental health and wellbeing. Worryingly, nearly three quarters of LGBT people said that they had experienced mental health problems relating to work (74%).


Based on the findings of this report, BITC have made three core recommendations for businesses to act upon:


Explicitly recognise that there are LGBT+ people working for you, with you, and receiving your services as customers and clients.


Review, with LGBT+ staff, policies and procedures to ensure that the structural organisational response is accessible and explicitly inclusive of LGBT+ people and their needs.


Celebrate diversity and inclusion through role models, staff diversity and ally networks and executive and board champions.


The report also showed that far too many people are still experiencing discrimination in with workplace with around one in eight (12%) having experienced negative comments from colleagues, customers or clients in the last year.


Within the LGBT+ community there were certain points showing groups that were particularly vulnerable


  • 16% of BAME LGBT+ people are being actively encouraged to hide their sexuality compared with 9% of LGBT+ employees across the board.
  • 9% of LGBT+ employees have been physically attacked by colleagues or customers, rising to 19% of those who identify as non-binary.
  • BAME LGBT+ employees are almost twice as likely as White employees to have experienced negativity from customers and clients (23% vs. 12%).
  • Cis gay or bi+ men were significantly more likely to have not contacted anyone for help for their mental health problems than other groups.
  • 28% of LGBT+ owners, CEOs, managing directors and board members have been encouraged to hide that they are LGBT+. This raises serious concerns about the true commitment to inclusion at the top of Britain’s businesses.
  • Gay & bi+ men with caring responsibilities were less satisfied with their health and finances than those without: 43% of gay/bi+ male carers and 36% of lesbian/bi+ female carers were satisfied with their financial wellbeing compared to 65% of gay/bi+ men without caring responsibilities.

Louise Aston, wellbeing director, Business in the Community, said:


“Although there has been slow incremental improvement of overall mental health at work over the past three years, the figures for LGBT+ people are shocking and point to just a couple of the contributory reasons why LGBT+ employees may have an increased likelihood of mental health issues."


“Businesses must play a role in supporting LGBT+ people and collective and urgent action by employers is needed to build momentum quickly, taking a ‘whole person’ approach to physical, mental, financial and social health and wellbeing. Our analysis has highlighted differences between the experiences and perceptions of lesbian women, bi+ women and bi+ men and gay men, and this reinforces the need to think about the LGBT+ workforce as many  identities rather than one group with identical needs."


“We’re looking for employers to make sure that they really recognize the needs of the LGBT+ staff they have working for them, that they respond to those needs in an engaging and inclusive way, and finally that they do everything possible to celebrate and role-model the diversity that is strengthening their organisations.”


Business in the Community is calling on organisations to do more to support conversations between staff and their line managers about all aspects of wellbeing in the workplace.


Tony Wood, Regional Leader, Continental Europe, Mercer Marsh Benefits, said:


“This year’s study, and in particular the startling figures on the impact on younger LGBT+ employees, underline the importance of engagement from senior leadership and senior leader LGBT+ and ally role models in the workplace. Seeing senior people in an organisation who are comfortable being themselves can have a profound and positive impact on someone just starting their career."


“Authenticity is also a key component in supporting mental health in the workplace. The research shows that 62% of generation Y graduates who were out in college and university have gone back into the closet after entering the formal work environment, unfortunately not feeling that they can be authentic in their work environment."


“Companies need to take an integrated, holistic approach to health and wellbeing that encompasses physical, mental, social, and emotional wellbeing. To embrace a holistic approach, we have to support people to be authentic. People who come to work as their full selves, don’t compartmentalise themselves and find it easier to contribute at their peak performance level.”


Susan Allen, Head of Retail & Business Banking and LGBT+ Executive Committee Sponsor, Santander UK, said:


 “At Santander, we aim to create an inclusive culture which fully embraces and serves the diverse needs of our customers and colleagues.  We are therefore proud to support this important research; supporting all employers to gain a greater understanding of experiences and perspectives from LGBT+ employees, with particular insight into improving LGBT+ inclusion for those with caring and parenting responsibilities.  The recommendations in this research can help inform positive change within our working environments and wider communities.”


Notes to editors


This report presents the key findings from a survey of 4,626 full and part-time employees in the UK that is representative of gender, age, industry sector, region and business size, excluding sole traders and those working alone. The survey explores mental health and wellbeing in the workplace with many questions tailored for managers and those who have a manager.


This report explores the responses of 600 employees who are LGBT+. In this report, LGBT+ includes those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and other sexuality, as well as those who identify as trans*, non-binary or prefer to self-define their gender. Where relevant and possible, these groups are looked at individually in addition to as a group. The small base size of trans respondents means it is not possible to analyse the results of this group individually, but they are included in overall LGBT+ statistics. In addition to looking at the overall survey, this year some LGBT+-specific questions were asked about work.


About Mercer


Mercer delivers advice and technology-driven solutions that help organisations meet the health, wealth and career needs of a changing workforce. Mercer’s more than 23,000 employees are based in 44 countries and the firm operates in over 130 countries. Mercer is a wholly owned subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies (NYSE: MMC), the leading global professional services firm in the areas of risk, strategy and people. With nearly 65,000 colleagues and annual revenue over $14 billion, through its market-leading companies including Marsh, Guy Carpenter and Oliver Wyman, Marsh & McLennan helps clients navigate an increasingly dynamic and complex environment. For more information, visit www.mercer.com. Follow Mercer on Twitter @Mercer. In the UK, Mercer Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.