In January 2022, the College carried out a ground-breaking survey of College members. This survey – only the second in the college’s 180-year history and the first such survey by a UK medical Royal College – revealed worrying levels of discrimination, with one in two psychiatrists experiencing hostility at work because of their sexuality or gender identity.
The LGBTQ+ survey of members is one of 29 key actions to be implemented by 2023 as part of the College's Equality Action Plan. Published in January 2021, the plan details the College’s commitment to promote equality and equitable outcomes for members, staff, mental health staff, and patients and carers.
This page contains a summary of the findings of the survey. For the full report please click the button below.
College members were invited to complete the survey between 13 December 2021 and 31 January 2022. A total of 2,282 responses were received, representing one in eight (12%) of eligible members.
Around a quarter of the survey respondents identified as LGBTQ+, with most identifying as gay men, a quarter as bisexual and one in ten as lesbian.
What did we hear?
The survey results revealed a number of important findings, including:
- 48% of LGBTQ+ psychiatrists have been bullied, harassed or experienced microaggressions at work in the past three years.
- One in six said they had been bullied at work, more than one in five reported harassment and two in five had experienced microaggressions.
- Microaggressions – hostile comments or behaviours – were the most common form of abuse. Of the 572 psychiatrists who identified as LGBTQ+, 41% said they had experienced microaggressions.
- Workplace experiences tend to be less positive for LGBTQ+ members compared to those who identify as non-LGBTQ+.
- Those who identify as LGBTQ+ do not feel as included (especially those who are also Black, Asian or minority ethnic) and struggle to be their full self at work.
- Just 58% of LGBTQ+ trainees, speciality doctors and associate specialists said they ‘can be their true authentic selves at work’ compared with 78% of non-LGBTQ+ psychiatrists in similar roles. Among LGBTQ+ consultants the figure rises to 70% but still trails senior psychiatrists on 78%.
- Psychiatrists working in hospitals were most likely to experience workplace hostility because of their sexuality or gender identity – 52% of hospital-based LGBTQ+ psychiatrists reported bullying, harassment or micro-aggressions compared with 43% of those working in community settings.
- The survey revealed marked differences in how psychiatrists perceive their workplace depending on their sexuality, gender identity and race. LGBTQ+ psychiatrists were significantly less likely to view their ‘working environment as both positive and inclusive’ - 74% compared to 80% of other psychiatrists.
- Among LGBTQ+ psychiatrists from Black, Asian or other minority groups, just 58% described their working environment as ‘both positive and inclusive’.
- The survey suggests most hostile incidents may go unnoticed. Among the 1,709 psychiatrists who did not identify as LGTBQ+, just 21% said they had witnessed LGBTQ+ colleagues being bullied, harassed or being the target of microaggressions.
- Most psychiatrists who experience hostility at work because of their sexuality or gender identity do not lodge a formal complaint with their employer - just 40% of LGBTQ+ psychiatrists who have experienced bullying or harassment said they had complained.
- Among those who experienced microaggressions, less than one in 10 had lodged a complaint.
- Among LGBTQ+ psychiatrists who had complained, only one in five said they were satisfied with the response.
- Though the number who experience abuse frequently is low, abuse of LGBTQ+ members is very much apparent in the workplace.
Dr Pavan Joshi, Chair of the College’s Rainbow Special Interest Group, commented on the survey's findings:
“Nobody should be bullied, harassed or experience microaggressions at work because of their sexuality or gender identity.
"Like racism, LGBTQ+ discrimination can be subtle and disguised. Discrimination against LGBTQ+ people will continue unless we each speak up and call it out. Staying silent emboldens perpetrators.
"Discrimination in all its forms damages mental health. It has no place in our society including the workplace.”
What action is the College taking?
The College ran focus groups to understand more about the experiences of psychiatrists highlighted in the survey.
We’re also calling on all health care organisations to adopt a zero-tolerance approach to bullying, harassment and micro-aggressions
against LGBTQ+ employees, as part of 12 commitments to promote an LGBTQ+ friendly workplace for staff.