b'PEOPLE| LEGAL SECTOR| 2021SUSTAINABILITY INSIGHTLGBTIQ+ INCLUSION2021 AusLSA Member PerformanceAusLSA members commitments and activities have been generally stable in 2021 compared with the previous year. Eighty-four percent of firms reported having an LGBTQ inclusion policy (up from sixty-two percent in 2016) but down four percent from its all-time high in 2020. This is mostly because AusLSA has a large number of new members reporting for the first time this year and are at the early stages of their LGBTQ programs. Of those with policies only fifty-eight percent of firms have decided to make their commitments public by publishing their commitment on their external website. This has not changed significantly in the last 5 years.Eighty-four percent of firms created specific accountabilities for the implementation of their policies and programs, which is unchanged from 2020 but has improved from sixty-three percent since 2016. Well governed committees are an important factor in the way that firms engage with their people to create cultural change and 84 percent convened workplace-based committees which is an increase from 81 percent last year and 64 percent in 2016.Ninety-two percent of AusLSA members participated in a range of different work-based activities and initiatives to support LGBTQ support and inclusion. The average number of activities or initiatives undertaken at each firm increased again this year to 7.5 activities after a massive increase of fifty-two percent in 2020.The most popular activity for law firms again in 2021 was Wear it Purple with or 76 percent of members (or 28 participants - up from eight participants in 2017). Twenty-three firms (up from fifteen in 2017) ran activities for IDAHOBIT. Twenty firms (54 percent) reported being members of Pride in Diversity, an extensive program supporting employees to implement LGBTQ inclusion programs. Of these, 16 reported participating in the Pride in Diversities Australian Workplace Equality Index (AWEI) which is a comprehensive evaluation and benchmarking process. Twenty-six firms provided LGBTQ awareness training (up from 22 last year and 13 in 2016).Challenges and Opportunities The work to deliver equality for LGBTQ employees and other stakeholders of law firms is not complete and continuing commitment and investment is required. As a society we still experience people who show that they were unable to completely accept and include LGBTQ people. This includes some of our political, business and community leaders. These attitudes and opinions demonstrate the types of unacceptable attitudes and behaviours that impact LGBTQ people in their workplaces. Workplace language and behaviours continue to be an issue despite many people working remotely. It is important for all of us to publicly and explicitly express our support the rights of their LGBTQ members in both our personal and professional lives. This is needed to send a clear signal to all who would resist these basic rights. The most recent AWEI benchmarking points to some encouraging progress in LGBTI inclusion but with some disparity in certain areas.Acceptance of the trans sexual community is lagging behind progress made by the gay lesbian and bi groups with signs of anti trans sentiment emerging in some parts of the community. There is Stronger progress in many LGBTI indicators measured in the most recent AWEI suggest differences with stronger performance in Sydney and Melbourne and poorer results in regional and country areas. Gay women now are more likely to be out than gay men. Law firms need to monitor how these discrepancies might apply to their organisations and clientsand respond any disparity they find.The early years of AusLSA reporting on LGBTQ inclusion showed encouraging growth in commitments and activity, however the most recent AWEI survey highlighted an increasing trend of LGBTQ law firms employees being uncomfortable being out at work. Of course, this is being out is a personal matter and while we need to respect everyones choices about if they reveal their sexuality we also need to ensure that our attitudes and behaviours only contribute to this choice in a positive way. Law firms need to provide a safe and welcoming environment to all staff, clients and stakeholders. A gap may still exist with respect to LGBTQ inclusion, perhaps evidenced by the fact that that only forty percent of AusLSA Members firms are members of Pride in Diversity. This years AWEI found inappropriate language visible by allies but behind the back of LGBTQ employees was a continuing issue. Addressing LGBTQ inclusion should be approached in a deliberate, systematic and purposeful way which is a feature of the Pride in Diversitys program. Awareness and understanding is a key stepping stone to inclusion. Comprehensive awareness training provided by experienced trainers for teams and all levels of management is critical for a truly inclusive work environment and should cover:the unique challenges faced by LGBTQ employeesthe use of terminology and languagehow to promptly and effectively respond to inappropriate comments in the workplace andrespecting confidentiality and understanding the sensitivities around disclosure36'