Perceptions on LGBTQI+ inclusion efforts differ depending on sexual orientation

By Jerome Doraisamy|13 December 2020
Perceptions on LGBTQI+ inclusion efforts differ depending on sexual orientation

New research, conducted by Lawyers Weekly and Momentum Intelligence, shows notable differences between LGBTQI+ and non-LGTBQI professionals in law with regards to the success or otherwise of inclusion initiatives.

In October 2020, Lawyers Weekly and Momentum Intelligence conducted a survey of 468 legal professionals across the country, examining their perceptions of efforts made by their employers, and the broader legal profession, to advance diversity and inclusion initiatives as they pertain to the experience of those identifying as LGBTQI+. The survey also inquired about cultural issues to extrapolate how far the profession may still have to go.

In this particular survey, 41 per cent of respondents said they identify as LGBTQI+.

When asked about the level of importance placed on LGBTQI+ inclusion initiatives within one’s workplace, 68.7 per cent of those identifying as LGBTQI+ feel that their employers see such initiatives as important, ranging from “somewhat important” to “extremely important”, and just 31 per cent think their employers do not see it as important.

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Among other legal professionals, just half (50.7 per cent) think their employers see such initiatives as important, and the remaining half deem the importance placed on inclusion by their organisations to be “not so important” or “not at all important”.

There is a significant disparity in perceptions of success for inclusion initiatives: 70 per cent of those identifying as LGBTQI+ think their organisations’ efforts have a “positive” or “very positive” impact, with just 5 per cent thinking the impact is negative. However, just 45 per cent of non-LGBTQI+ legal professionals think such initiatives have a “positive” or “very positive” impact, with 42 per cent thinking it doesn’t make a difference and 13 per cent deeming the impact to be negative.

Views also differ on whether or not more needs to be done to promote LGBTQI+ inclusion within respondents’ organisations.

Three-fifths (59.3 per cent) of LGBTQI+ respondents to the survey said there must be greater effort put in by their employers, compared to just 28 per cent of non-LGTBQI+ professionals. Forty point seven per cent of LGBTQI+ professionals and 72 per cent of non-LGBTQI+ professionals said their organisations do not need to do more.

Similar findings emerged with regard to perceptions of efforts across the profession: 86 per cent of LGBTQI+ professionals said that, industry-wide, law needs to do more in promoting inclusion initiatives, with just 14 per cent saying it doesn’t need to do more, and of those who do not identify as LGBTQI+, half said more work is needed, and the other half did not agree.

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Reflecting on the results, Momentum Intelligence research consultant Oliver Stofka said: “Overall, we are seeing the inclusion initiatives having a much more positive effect in the eyes of those who identify as LGBTQI+ against those who don’t.”

“This shows that the employees that the initiatives are mainly aimed are feeling the results of the work that firms are putting in. While there is a way to go to make sure everyone feels included in a firm’s culture, the inclusion initiatives that are in place at the moment are definitely getting results.”

Last week, Lawyers Weekly reported on the extent of progress that has been made in fostering inclusive workplaces for legal professionals identifying as LGBTQI+.

Perceptions on LGBTQI+ inclusion efforts differ depending on sexual orientation
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