The UK’s biggest business membership organisation, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), has launched a flagship new digital resources hub to support and encourage LGBT+ entrepreneurship, and promote inclusivity in workplaces.
FSB’s ‘Let’s Grow Business Together’ initiative has been backed by the government’s Equalities Minister, Mike Freer MP.
It is also backed by prominent LGBT+ business campaigner Iain Anderson, the Executive Chairman of public relations agency Cicero/AMO.
The online hub features first-hand insights and experience from LGBT+ small business owners, some of whom decided to start their own business in order to feel more comfortable being themselves and avoid the risk of discrimination or subconscious bias in a corporate workplace.
Research by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has found that 40% of LGB+ workers and more than half (55%) of trans workers have experienced workplace conflict and harassment, compared to 29% of heterosexual, cisgender employees.
Meanwhile a study by the Government Equalities Office found nearly a fifth (19%) of LGBT+ employees had not been open about their sexual orientation or gender identity with any of their colleagues at the same or lower level, rising to 30% with any senior colleagues and 57% with any customers or clients.
Inclusion specialist and FSB member Ellie Lowther, who is among the LGBT+ entrepreneurs featured on the hub, reveals that “unconscious bias is something I see in many more areas than you may imagine”.
FSB’s Chief of External Affairs, Craig Beaumont, who is featured in OUTstanding’s list of the UK’s Top 100 LGBT+ Executives, said: “It is a sad reality that barriers, discrimination and subconscious bias are still faced by many in the LGBT+ community.
“The intention of FSB’s ‘Let’s Grow Business Together’ digital hub and our new national LGBT+ business networking events is to support, celebrate and encourage LGBT+ entrepreneurship, as well as providing guidance for small firms more generally on ensuring they are and remain inclusive businesses.”
The Minister for Equalities, Mike Freer MP, said: "People that are able to feel themselves at work are free to realise their full potential.
"We've seen fantastic examples of businesses fostering inclusive environments where LGBT people can flourish.
"The ‘Let’s Grow Business Together’ digital hub will bring businesses together to share resources and expertise, celebrate LGBT entrepreneurship, and ensure real positive change for LGBT people in the workplace."
FSB has played a leading role in aiding the government’s efforts to engage with the LGBT+ small business community, and was instrumental in the creation of the role of LGBT+ Business Champion.
Iain Anderson, Executive Chairman of Cicero/AMO, said: “I think it’s just fantastic that FSB is creating a hub around LGBT+ issues so that businesses can show best practice, so that they can buddy up. And frankly, like any business owner, you want to do more business, so if this is a way of, at the same time, allowing faster progress on LGBT+ at work for the small business sector, I think that’s fantastic.”
The ‘Let’s Grow Business Together’ hub also highlights FSB’s campaign to end barriers faced by some LGBT+ focussed businesses in finding appropriate business insurance, as well as downloadable resources for small firms to communicate that they are an LGBT+ friendly business.