Coming out to colleagues can help you cope, and 'hope', better in the workplace. Photo: Getty
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Is perseverance the key to coping as an LGBT employee?

There is evidence to suggest that a high level of psychological flexibility, something LGBT employees often need to develop at work, can help people cope better, and indeed flourish, in the workplace.

The challenges faced by LGBT individuals in the workplace, and the impact these challenges can have on their mental health, are well-documented. But with Mental Health Awareness Week fast approaching, I’d like to go one step further and focus not only on the difficulties faced by LBGT employees, but how they can rise up and meet these challenges.

Significant steps are being taken in attempting to understand how LGBT employees’ cope with the challenges they face in the workplace. From this research, the concept of perseverance is emerging as key.

Let’s talk for a minute about what LGBT employees may face in the workplace. To begin with, disclosing one’s sexual and/or gender identity can be a huge source of anxiety for some people. It can involve a series of tricky and stressful calculations about the potential costs and benefits of coming out to one’s colleagues and boss.

If one manages to negotiate coming out at work successfully, there is always the potential issue of negative or discriminatory behaviours to contend with. These may be subtle, and even unintentional, such as people making bizarre assumptions about someone’s interests or activities based on their sexual and/or gender identity – for instance, the assumption that your gay male colleague will have the ability and/or desire to advise you on your fashion issues. However, they may be more insidious, such as when LGBT people are intentionally denied promotions, career advancements and access to important resources.

But the issues I describe are not purely based on my own observations. Ample research has indicated that both coming out, and experiences of discrimination in the workplace, can have a significant impact on the health and wellbeing of LGBT employees.

Yet studies have shown that perseverance, or the ability to bounce back when beset by problems, may offer LGBT employees some protection from these challenges. For example, Kwon and Hugelshofer (2010) found that the characteristic of hope (or the belief that one can persist through challenges and accomplish one’s goals) buffered the impact of workplace discrimination on LGB employees’ wellbeing. In another study, Smith and Gray (2009) drew attention to the importance of hardiness (or the ability to shake off setbacks and proceed even when success seems uncertain) to LGBT people’s coping efforts.

I am currently working to add to this field by examining psychological flexibility in LGBT employees. According to already existing research, psychological flexibility describes a form of perseverance in which people are able to take actions towards achieving their goals and values, even when they are experiencing difficult or unwanted internal events.

Whilst psychological flexibility has not yet been examined in LGBT employees, there is evidence to suggest that people higher in this quality are better able to cope, and indeed flourish, in the workplace.

In addition, while people have naturally occurring levels of psychological flexibility, it is also a quality that can be enhanced through training, and research has indicated that such enhancement can, in turn, improve work-related health and performance.

This latter point is particularly important because it leaves the door ajar in terms of utilising psychologically-informed training interventions to help LGBT employees cope with the stresses of being out in the workplace.

It would be quite easy to get disheartened by the fact that LGBT employees may have to work hard at persevering in order to survive the stresses of being out in the workplace. But unfortunately in-group favouritism and out-group discrimination appears to be a natural human tendency.

Many organisations are doing a great job of promoting LGBT rights and implementing strategies to prevent unfair treatment of LGBT employees, and I would recommend they pay heed to psychologically-informed solutions to help support this. But until the day comes where LGBT discrimination is no longer an issue, we’ll need to keep on persevering.

Dr Jo Lloyd, Institute of Management Studies at Goldsmiths, University of London

Ukip's Nigel Farage and Paul Nuttall. Photo: Getty
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Is the general election 2017 the end of Ukip?

Ukip led the way to Brexit, but now the party is on less than 10 per cent in the polls. 

Ukip could be finished. Ukip has only ever had two MPs, but it held an outside influence on politics: without it, we’d probably never have had the EU referendum. But Brexit has turned Ukip into a single-issue party without an issue. Ukip’s sole remaining MP, Douglas Carswell, left the party in March 2017, and told Sky News’ Adam Boulton that there was “no point” to the party anymore. 

Not everyone in Ukip has given up, though: Nigel Farage told Peston on Sunday that Ukip “will survive”, and current leader Paul Nuttall will be contesting a seat this year. But Ukip is standing in fewer constituencies than last time thanks to a shortage of both money and people. Who benefits if Ukip is finished? It’s likely to be the Tories. 

Is Ukip finished? 

What are Ukip's poll ratings?

Ukip’s poll ratings peaked in June 2016 at 16 per cent. Since the leave campaign’s success, that has steadily declined so that Ukip is going into the 2017 general election on 4 per cent, according to the latest polls. If the polls can be trusted, that’s a serious collapse.

Can Ukip get anymore MPs?

In the 2015 general election Ukip contested nearly every seat and got 13 per cent of the vote, making it the third biggest party (although is only returned one MP). Now Ukip is reportedly struggling to find candidates and could stand in as few as 100 seats. Ukip leader Paul Nuttall will stand in Boston and Skegness, but both ex-leader Nigel Farage and donor Arron Banks have ruled themselves out of running this time.

How many members does Ukip have?

Ukip’s membership declined from 45,994 at the 2015 general election to 39,000 in 2016. That’s a worrying sign for any political party, which relies on grassroots memberships to put in the campaigning legwork.

What does Ukip's decline mean for Labour and the Conservatives? 

The rise of Ukip took votes from both the Conservatives and Labour, with a nationalist message that appealed to disaffected voters from both right and left. But the decline of Ukip only seems to be helping the Conservatives. Stephen Bush has written about how in Wales voting Ukip seems to have been a gateway drug for traditional Labour voters who are now backing the mainstream right; so the voters Ukip took from the Conservatives are reverting to the Conservatives, and the ones they took from Labour are transferring to the Conservatives too.

Ukip might be finished as an electoral force, but its influence on the rest of British politics will be felt for many years yet. 

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