By Amber Milne
LONDON, July 3 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - LGBT+ people in Britain on average earn almost 7,000 pounds ($8,800) less than their straight colleagues each year, a shortfall that dwarfs the country's gender pay gap, according to a new workplace study.
According to research by networking site LinkedIn and LGBT+ organisation UK Black Pride, gay, bisexual and transgender employees earn 16% less on average than their heterosexual peers, which equates to £6,703 a year.
"LGBT+ people often put huge amounts of time and energy into fitting into their workplaces," said Jon Miller, founder of Open For Business, a group of companies promoting LGBT+ inclusion.
"(The survey results) should be worrying for employers – it shows they aren't getting the most of their LGBT+ employees."
The study, released on Tuesday, canvassed more than 4,000 heterosexual and LGBT+ workers across Britain. It did not say if the pay gap sprang from discrimination or other reasons.
More than a quarter of the LGBT+ respondents said they hid their sexuality or gender identity at work, which could be holding them back professionally, said Joshua Graff, who manages LinkedIn in Britain.
"Concealing such a huge part of your life from colleagues can be extremely stressful and takes up energy that could be spent excelling at your job," Graff said in a statement.
Almost two-thirds of LGBT+ respondents said they had been made to feel uncomfortable due to their sexuality or gender identity, the study showed.
"Business can always do more to promote an inclusive workplace culture - many are doing so – but more need to step up," Iain Anderson, executive chairman of communications agency Cicero Group, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Anderson said he was unaware that a pay gap between LGBT+ and heterosexual employees even existed, describing it as "shocking".
Britain's gender pay gap sits at 8.6% for full-time employees, according to the most recent government data, in comparison to the 16% gap suffered by LGBT+ workers.
Many companies have rushed to flag their diversity credentials in recent weeks, as countries around the world celebrated Pride month with parades, events and marches.
However, Phyll Opoku-Gyimah, co-founder of UK Black Pride, said companies should bring inclusive practises into the day-to-day running of a business, "and not just during Pride month". "The more we hear from LGBTQ employees, the more we begin to understand that the fight for equality is far from over," she added.
($1 = 0.7954 pounds)
(Reporting by Amber Milne; Editing by Hugo Greenhalgh and Lyndsay Griffiths. Please credit Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit www.trust.org)
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