A document released on Wednesday by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) on “Inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ+) persons in the world of work” recommended member countries, employers’ organisations and representatives of workers to launch social protection programmes to remove barriers that LGBTIQ+ persons face in the society. Citing data from various sources, the ILO document said discrimination has an economic cost not just to LGBTIQ+ persons and their families but also to enterprises and national economies. The ILO added that around the world, LGBTIQ+ persons face harassment, violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics.
It said a national policy and labour law review will allow governments to assess their country’s work policy environment for LGBTIQ+ persons. “This will allow the identification of concrete steps for improving the legal and policy environment, ending discrimination and exclusions, and complying with international instruments,” the document said.
The ILO said consultation with LGBTIQ+ communities and social dialogue with employers’ and workers’ organisations are key. “This will allow the identification of barriers faced by LGBTIQ+ persons when entering the labour market and accessing government schemes, including those on social protection,” the document said. The ILO asked the Governments to work with small and medium industry associations, sectoral unions and informal economy workers’ associations to monitor discrimination in the informal economy and address stigma and discrimination related to gender and sexual identity.
Encouraging employers’ organisations to end sexual discrimination at workplaces, the ILO said it makes business sense to work on LGBTIQ+ inclusion in the workplace. “Studies have shown that diversity in the workplace, including LGBTIQ+ persons, is better for business. It signals a creative environment that creates the right conditions for economic growth. Employers’ organisations can provide policy guidance to their members, undertake advocacy and raise awareness on including LGBTIQ+ persons in workplaces, promote social dialogue and collective bargaining, and facilitate learning and sharing of good practices among members,” the document said.
The ILO asked trade unions to help LGBTIQ+ workers to organise and exercise their right to freedom of association. The ILO said workers’ associations can also ensure that issues affecting LGBTIQ+ workers are represented in collective bargaining agreements with employers and in workplace policies and other tools. “Many LGBTIQ+ workers, particularly those in smaller workplaces, may feel isolated without visible LGBTIQ+ peers or allies,” the document said.