Tackling Homophobia in Engineering

Conservative MP Alec Shelbrooke (Elmet & Rothwell) today publishes his report ‘Engineering Action: Tackling Homophobia in Engineering’.

The report, jointly authored with Dr Mark McBride-Wright, Chair and Co-founder of industry network group InterEngineering, highlights further action is required within the engineering industry to tackle homophobia and its effect on productivity. It is suggested that a potential contribution to GDP of £11.2 billion a year is currently lost due to bullying and pressures on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) engineers in the workplace.

Mr Shelbrooke, a Mechanical Engineer by profession and ministerial aid to the Minister for Employment, said: “The basis of this report is to recommend that homophobic attitudes can be transformed through proactive, educational teamwork and leadership. Companies that have adopted such an approach have seen up to a 30% increase in productivity from openly LGBT employees as a direct result of a happier and more cohesive workplace. This report not only highlights the prevalence of homophobia in the engineering industry, but also lays out a proactive approach for the sector to tackle this issue head-on”.

Surveys quoted in the report show that over half of LGBT people employed in Engineering are choosing to remain in the closet through fear of the impact coming out and homophobia would have on their professional careers.

Welcoming the report, former Chief Executive of BP, Lord Browne of Madingley said: “As a graduate trainee engineer at BP in the 1960s, it was immediately obvious to me that being gay in business and most definitely in the oil business, was unacceptable. This report explores the consequences of failing to create an inclusive work environment. It shows that when people are not comfortable bringing their whole selves to work they do not engage and productivity suffers as a result”.

Industry network group InterEngineering is a professional network aiming to connect, inform and empower LGBT engineers and their supporters. It aims to provide a welcoming, supportive, safe and confidential space for all LGBT people within engineering to meet, share and discuss views, experiences or concerns.

Dr McBride-Wright added: “Progress and acceptance within the workplace for those in the LGBT community is hindered by homophobic, biphobic and transphobic language, both in the office and on site. For example, using “gay” as an expression denoting something negative. I have experienced this. It may be casual banter for some, but for me it resonates with childhood bullying and must be challenged and stopped. A series of recommendations are presented at the end of this report which serves as a call-to-arms for engineering firms, engineering institutes and the Government to address LGBT inclusion in engineering. There is a dearth of engineering firms in the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index and I would like to see this number increase.”

Read The Engineering Action Report