The information provided in this toolkit can be used by employers to raise awareness of the issues confronted by LGBTQ+ communities in online spaces, and may help them to identify, challenge, report, and prevent online hostility in the workplace
In line with the Equality Act 2010, it is important for employers to ensure that their employees are not subjected to discrimination on the grounds of gender and sexuality. This Act bans any discrimination on these grounds in the workplace and includes online communication in these settings.
In addition to this, it is important for employers to be aware of other relevant policies. Useful links for employers are given at the end.
Protection from Harassment Act 1997 (PHA)
The PHA applies to everyone who commits acts of harassment and is designed to protect victims of ‘stalkers’ and other individuals who commit acts of harassment in both online and offline spaces. This also includes harassment in the workplace.
Malicious Communications Act 1988/ The Communications Act 2003
The Malicious Communications Act 1988 and The Communications Act 2003 make it a criminal offence for individuals to send messages which are indecent, grossly offensive or contain threats. This may include text messages, or online interactions including email, private messages, and public posts.
Are there any other ways I can support my employees?
As an employer it is important to support all employees, and to demonstrate that differences amongst employees relating to sexual and gender identities are accepted and respected. Here are some suggestions:
- Use pronouns on email signatures – By including your pronouns as part of your email signatures, you are not only helping others understand how you want to identify, but you are also showing solidarity with people who face discrimination because of their gender identity.
- Ensure you have a protocol for reporting online abuse – Ensure that employees are aware of the seriousness of online abuse and encourage employees to report incidents which take place. Have a clear protocol for reporting and addressing these incidents.
- Develop an inclusive environment – Promote national and local LGBTQ+ events. Foster LGBTQ+ Ally training.
- Facilitate discussion – Provide spaces and opportunities in staff meetings or appraisals to talk sensitively about experiences relating to sexual and gender identities.