Research by Anglia Ruskin University has shown that discrimination of gay and lesbian job seekers is still commonplace within both private firms and the public sector in the UK. This is despite a study by LGBT marketing and research agency Out Now Global which showed that businesses which fail to implement supportive workplaces for LGBT employees are losing thousands of pounds annually from their bottom line.

Dr Nick Drydakis of Anglia Ruskin University asked 144 young people – all first-time job seekers – to make some 11,000 applications to over 5,500 jobs. Some mentioned membership of universities’ gay & lesbian societies, while an identical number didn’t. In all other respects, the homosexual and heterosexual applicants’ credentials were broadly the same, showing similar skills and experience.

By monitoring the responses to the university email addresses he had created, he concluded that the gay applicants were 5 per cent less likely to be offered an interview than heterosexual applicants. The firms who offered interviews to gay male candidates pay an average salary of 2 per cent less than those who invite heterosexuals for interview.

Gay men receive the fewest invitations for interviews in traditionally male-dominated occupations (accounting, banking, finance and management jobs), whereas lesbians receive the fewest invitations for interviews in traditionally female-dominated occupations (social care, social services and charity jobs).

In the accounting, banking, finance and management sector, the study found 74 occasions when only the heterosexual candidate was offered an interview and not the gay male candidate with comparable skills and experience, but no instances of only the gay male candidate being offered an interview.

Similarly, there were 63 examples when only heterosexual women were offered an interview in the social care, social services and charity sector, but no examples of only the lesbian candidate being offered an interview.

The study was carried out with the help of 12 students’ unions at universities across Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Dr Drydakis, Reader in Economics at Anglia Ruskin University, said: ‘Because of the limited research carried out so far into the experiences of gays and lesbians in the labour market, the disadvantages and discrimination they experience has gone unnoticed and therefore unchallenged.

‘Despite measures to encourage openness and discourage discrimination, including the introduction of the Equality Act of 2010, it is evident from my research that gays and lesbians are encountering serious misconceptions and barriers in the job market.’

‘It is also clear that people who face biased treatment in the hiring process must spend more time and resources finding jobs, and firms lose potential talent as a result of biased hiring.’

United Kingdom legislation introduced in 2010 make it illegal to discriminate against applicants on the grounds of someone’s real or perceived sexual orientation, which applies to all aspects of employment, including recruitment, promotion, training, terms and conditions, pay and benefits and dismissals. Unfortunately, however, studies suggest that judicial and legislative protection of sexual orientation minorities constitute only a small step in improving their well-being.