It's 50 years since the first pride celebration in the UK. And while the LGBTQ+ community has made huge strides in overcoming legal and financial discrimination, barriers to equality still exist, from the sexuality pay gap to higher rates of homelessness.
Many studies have found a wage hierarchy among LGB people. On average, gay men earn less than straight men and lesbian women earn more than straight women but still less than all men.
It is thought that this is down to a mix of discrimination in the workplace and choices made by individuals.
Discrimination can impact on earnings in different ways – whether by delaying a worker’s progression within a company or leading to more frequent job changes due to non-inclusive environments.
1 in 10 LGBTQ+ people in the US said they had experienced workplace discrimination between 2020 and 2021, whether that was being rejected from a job, harassed at work, denied a promotion or raise, excluded from company events or denied additional hours. During that time period, 9% said they were denied a job or laid off due to their sexual orientation or identity.
In a report conducted by Gov.uk, evidence was found of discrimination in recruitment, in promotion, deployment and access to social networks within particular occupations in the UK. The study found that "the workplace remains LGBT-unfriendly for many LGB people and even more so for transgender people, with many experiencing harassment and bullying, impacting on job choice, reduced progression and inability to openly identify at work".
Other factors at play
It is thought that personal choices can also account for the earnings gap. There are many factors at play feeding into this:
LGBTQ Americans face significantly higher poverty rates than heterosexual Americans. The American think tank the Williams Institute found that 29.4% of transgender people and cis-bisexual women live in poverty, compared to 17.8% of cis-straight women and 13.4% of cis-straight men.
Aside from discrimination, one possible cause of this is that many same-sex couples and LGBT Americans choose to live in large cities that are generally seen as more LGBT-friendly, though also tend to have a very high cost of living.
Other findings include:
Despite a relatively small bank of data, there is evidence to suggest that LGBTQ+ people are more at risk of homelessness.
There are three key ways that these insights are important to FinTech businesses (and companies in general at that).
Firstly, it's important culturally. Organisations need to practice a zero tolerance of any prejudice or harassment towards the LGBTQ+ community. At Ophelos we want our place of work to be welcoming of everybody, and a place where no one is held back by being authentic to themselves.
Secondly, it impacts the way companies build products and services. It could be as simple as adding more options to a 'Male/Female' dropdown menu, or allowing people to choose a different name from the one on their ID.
And thirdly, it's a case of knowledge is power. It's important for companies to have an awareness of the ways that a person may have been discriminated against or faced extra challenges in order to be empathetic, fully accepting, and treat all customers with respect.
At Ophelos, we know that many of our customers unfortunately battle with shame from being in debt and can feel afraid to speak up about their money issues. We're trying to remove this stigma, and the last thing we want is our customers to be stigmatised or made to feel ashamed in other areas of their lives.