Statistics show that the number of heterosexual people in Britain has dropped in comparison to the first LGBT figures released by the government in 2012.
The government’s annual population survey displays data evidence that two percent of Britain’s population now identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual. This number equates to approximately 1.1 million people.
Many workplaces have taken these figures into consideration and have collaborated with their employees to create inclusive working environments.
Wynne-Jones IP is one of these employers, joining IP Inclusive which is an initiative to promote and improve equality, diversity and inclusion across the IP sector.
48-year-old Lucy Gabb, HR Manager, and 21-year-old Liam Harkus, Renewals Administrator, are both employees of Wynne-Jones and reflect here about their experiences of being gay in the workplace.
Liam said: “Throughout my working life I have never hidden who I am. In my last job I was asked by various members of staff about my sexuality and personally, I have never found this offensive as I think people are just intrigued and want to know more. I’m very much an open book, I know I stand out from the crowd at times and I’ve really come to embrace this.
“While I haven’t ever felt the need to hide my sexuality, at job interviews I have felt it pertinent to reduce how ‘gay’ I was acting because I didn’t know what my interviewers views were on homosexuality and felt it was possible that I might be discriminated against.
“Wynne-Jones IP is a fantastic place to work for many reasons, let alone your sexuality. During my time here at Wynne-Jones I have only felt encouragement to be who I am. I have never felt uncomfortable and I know that I can trust my colleagues to keep things professional, whilst still being able to have a laugh, I bet not many IP firms can say that!”
Lucy has had a slightly different experience to Liam, hiding her sexuality for years as she feared it may affect her career prospects.
Lucy said: “I kept my sexuality a secret until 2012 and I did feel worried that my career might be affected because there is still a stigma surrounding the issue, although this is improving.
“We have come a long way over the last two decades but there is still a need to keep pushing forward. Worrying about what people think, particularly your employer is a scary place to be but since I’ve come out, I haven’t been worried about my career and talk openly to my colleagues at Wynne-Jones IP about my future wife.
“The ability to embrace your sexuality and be proud of who you are can help empower other people to be who they want to be. Initiatives like IP Inclusive are a good example of what employment sectors can do to help people within the LGBT community that are struggling and people need to be confident that their sexuality won’t have a negative impact on their employment or they’ll continue to hide who they are.”
Inclusivity in intellectual property continues to be a prominent theme for the team at Wynne-Jones this year. The firm has been working closely with IP Inclusive to promote greater diversity and inclusivity throughout, not just within the firm, but the profession as a whole.
Fiona Watkins, Wynne-Jones IP’s D&I officer, said: “Here at Wynne-Jones IP we have worked tirelessly to promote diversity, and encourage positive mental health in the workplace over the past few years.
“We recognise that being able to feel comfortable, confident and supported within your work environment is essential to encouraging personal development and building a strong workforce.
“Initiatives like Pride month, the parade and IP Out are so important in raising awareness of diversity. Many feel unable to discuss their sexuality openly for a variety of reasons, which could adversely impact the profession and lead to intellectual property and the STEM professions losing some of our most invaluable talent.”
For further information on IP Out, the IP Inclusive community please visit https://ipinclusive.org.uk/community/ip-out/ and for advice and support on LGBTQ+ in STEM professions you can visit https://prideinstem.org/ or read more at https://lgbtstem.wordpress.com/.