FEAR OF social exclusion and discrimination force many employees to hide their sexual orientation in the workplace, according to Dawn Hough from Pride in Diversity, an association launched last week by Michael Kirby.
The association, Australia's first LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) inclusion program for the workplace, is designed to assist a group of people often excluded from diversity programs who can be unintentionally discriminated against, Hough said.
Hough added that the fear of negative career impacts and "being found out" are very real and occur every day for many employees who are gay, and this fear can impact on both their personal wellbeing and productivity in the workplace.
"To say that there is no effect on the mental health and wellbeing of any employee that feels they need to live a double life at work - or that there is no effect on the organisation itself in terms of team cohesion, productivity, risk mitigation, the ability to recruit the best talent and reputation - is, at its best, naïve," she said.
Pride in Diversity aims to make workplaces more responsive to the needs of LGBT people.
"This is not about having an LGBT lobby group in your workplace, or about trying to force all LGBT employees to 'come out', it is simply about ensuring that your workplace does not inadvertently discriminate against LGBT employees and that it is inclusive of all employees, including those that are LGBT."