08 December 2015

Time to tackle homophobia in engineering

Rainbow flag
The Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) has welcomed the publication of a new report, which takes a closer look at the problem of homophobia in the engineering sector. Engineering Action: Tackling Homophobia in Engineering has been pioneered by Dr Mark McBride-Wright, a Chartered Chemical Engineer and co-founder the Interengineering diversity forum. The report is co-authored by Conservative MP, Alec Shelbrooke.

Highlighting the need for further action within the engineering community to tackle homophobia, the report uses findings from a survey conducted in 2014 by IChemE’s London and South East member group.

Shockingly, the survey found over half of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) chemical engineers kept their sexuality a secret at work. The statistic pointed to a potential loss of £11.2 billion in GDP each year, due to lower productivity by LGBT engineers who feel isolated, bullied or excluded at work.

Mr Shelbrooke, a Parliamentary Private Secretary in the in the UK government’s Department for Work and Pensions, said: “This report not only highlights the prevalence of homophobia in the engineering sector, but also sets out a proactive approach to tackle this issue head-on”.

IChemE’s director of policy and communications, Andy Furlong, welcomed the report and said: “Homophobic attitudes and behaviour are completely unacceptable and no-one should feel the need to conceal their sexuality at this point in the 21st Century. Homophobia in the workplace is a global issue that must be tackled and the engineering sector is no exception. I applaud Mark and Alec for their bold, but frankly alarming report. IChemE will be studying the findings and recommendations carefully and we will be addressing the challenges faced by our LGBT members as part of our diversity agenda.”

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. 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.”

The full report: Engineering Action: Tackling Homophobia in Engineering can be read on the InterEngineering website via the following link: http://goo.gl/EULOYa

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IChemE is a registered charity in England & Wales (214379), and a charity registered in Scotland (SC 039661).