Although Spain is one of the countries with the most advanced legislation on inclusion and diversity, companies can incorporate different initiatives that help to ensure the protection of everyone in a labor environment.
On June 26, the world celebrated what is commonly known as the ‘LGBT Pride Day’. The date is not irrelevant and takes us back to the city of New York. Who hasn’t heard of Greenwich Village? On June 28, 1969 in Greenwich Village, the New York police raided a bar called the Stonewall Inn, where several LGBT groups met to escape the rejection they suffered due to their sexual orientation. Instead of taking a passive approach to the raid, the people present confronted the police, marking one of the most important milestones in the fight for equality and non-discrimination of LGBT people.
In 2020 and especially in Spain, many people are questioning the point of still celebrating LGBT Gay Pride Day. Specifically in a labor environment, it should be pointed out that Spain, together with another 76 country members of the UNO, offers full protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation in the workplace. In particular, article 4 of the Workers’ Statute recognizes the right to protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation and diversity as one of every worker’s basic rights, in addition to respect for privacy and personal dignity, to guarantee protection against harassment due to sexual orientation.
However, different studies carried out in OECD member states and in Spain provide data that justifies the need to take protection measures that defend the value of diversity in general and of this group of people in particular. In its report published in 2019,Companies at a glance in 2019, after a series of surveys, the OECD concluded that LGBT people are disadvantaged in the labor market because of their sexual orientation. Specifically, the study stated that LGBT people have 7% less possibilities of being hired than non-LGBT people and that their income was 4% less than non-LGBT people. In addition, at a national level, a study was carried out called LGBT Diversity in a labor context in Spain, according to which, 62% of LGBT people hide their sexual orientation in the workplace and up to 81% have been subject at some point to mocking, jokes and homophobic comments.
In our newsletter published in March 2019, we stated that diversity in the workplace is linked to innovation and creativity and therefore inevitably to the creation of value. The correct management of diversity guarantees the creation of diverse teams that provide ideas, different points of view and abilities. Along the same lines, in 2017, a report was published by the Institute of Women and Equal Opportunity belonging to the Ministry of Equality that highlighted the need to take active measures to promote diversity at companies.
The common denominator of all the studies carried out in relation to LGBT people in the labor and employment world is to provide greater protection at companies with a working culture and environment in which diversity is welcome. In short, despite the fact that Spain is one of the countries with the most advanced legislation in relation to the protection and recognition of the rights of LGBT people, the truth is that at a company level, there are many initiatives that can be taken to guarantee their protection by means of inclusion and diversity measures. In particular, some of these measures could consist in establishing corporate policies that respect diversity and inclusion at all levels and the implementation of whistle blower channels for situations and/or conduct that breaches the due respect due to all workers.
José Antonio Segovia
Garrigues Employment & Labor Law Department