The public sector ranks dead last on LGBTI workplace equality

Public universities and the private sector are beating government agencies in efforts to be an employer of choice to Australia’s LGBTI population. Is government work gay friendly?

Gay men and lesbians were once shunned from employment in government agencies due to the risk of becoming a blackmail target. Now decades later, opportunity and inclusion for LGBTI employees has improved but still lags behind in the public university and private sector, according to the latest report on workplace equality.

Now in its third year, Pride in Diversity’s 2014 Australian Workplace Equality Index was released this month with Australian Federal Police as the only agency or department to rank in the top 20. AFP came equal sixth. Universities, large private businesses and not-for-profit organisations dominated the list.

In every benchmark category the public sector fell behind the private, education and not-for-profit sectors for inclusive practice and engagement. These benchmarks took into account strategic approaches to LGBTI diversity, policies and benefits, grievance procedures and ally engagement. The public sector also came last in diversity training on LGBTI issues, internal analysis of LGBTI inclusion, and engagement with the LGBTI populations in the communities they serve.

PiD’s director Dawn Hough told The Mandarin that many of the public sector agencies have recently started working with her organisation to improve gender and sexual orientation inclusion. The types of inclusion that PiD is looking for are leadership education programs, an LGBTI employee network or advisory council, and positive responses from LGBTI-specific employee surveys.

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