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Discrimination of gay and lesbian jobseekers ‘commonplace’

Gay and lesbian jobseekers are 5% less likely to be offered a job interview than heterosexual applicants with comparable skills and experience, a study has found.

The research, carried out by Anglia Ruskin University, found that gay men receive the fewest invitations for interviews in traditionally male-dominated occupations such as accounting, banking, finance and management jobs, whereas lesbians receive the fewest invitations for interviews in traditionally female-dominated occupations such as social care, social services and charity jobs.

In the accounting, banking, finance and management sector, the study found 74 occasions when the heterosexual candidate was offered an interview and not the gay male candidate, but no instances of only the gay applicant being offered an interview. 

Similarly, there were 63 examples where only heterosexual women were offered an interview in the social care, social services and charity sector, leading researchers to describe such discrimination as ‘commonplace’.

“Because of the limited research carried out so far into the experiences of gays and lesbians in the labour market, the disadvantages and discrimination they experience has gone unnoticed and therefore unchallenged,” said senior lecturer in economics at Anglia Ruskin University and research lead Nick Drydakis.

“Despite measures to encourage openness and discourage discrimination, including the introduction of the Equality Act of 2010, it is evident from my research that gays and lesbians are encountering serious misconceptions and barriers in the job market.”

“It is also clear that people who face biased treatment in the hiring process must spend more time and resources finding jobs, and firms lose potential talent as a result of biased hiring.”

The research found that firms that offer interviews to gay male candidates pay an average salary of 2% less than those that invite heterosexuals for interview (£23,072 compared to £23,544). For lesbian women the average salary is 1.4% lower (£22,569 compared to £22,907). 

The study surveyed 72 students whose CVs mentioned participation in their university’s LGBT society. It compared their experiences with 72 further volunteers whose skills and experiences were identical, but whose CV didn’t indicate their sexuality. 

In pairs, the 144 students applied for 5,549 jobs (11,098 separate applications) that had been advertised on 15 of the UK’s leading recruitment websites.