Workforce Tech in Healthcare: Unveiling Inherent Bias – How Technology Applications Pose Barriers to the LGBTQ Community

In the latest in our Workforce Tech in Healthcare series, we reflect on what has been achieved in championing equality and challenging discrimination, focus on what still needs to be done, and look at how tech can help or hinder progress.

14 September 2023

In today’s digital era, technology is all around us, and has become an intrinsic part of our lives; shaping our interactions, decisions, and experiences.  

While technology holds the potential to connect and empower people, it isn’t perfect, and there are limitations. When it comes to the LGBTQ community, technology applications can often pose unseen barriers due to inherent biases within their design and implementation.

So, what can we do to remove these barriers? Firstly, we need to recognise and address the inherent biases in technology applications that pose barriers to the LGBTQ community, and second, we need to foster collaboration among developers, users, and advocacy groups, to work towards creating technology that truly serves and empowers all individuals, irrespective of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Where to start?

Here are some biases that exist in many applications:

Gender Identity and Pronouns

Data Collection and Privacy

One significant barrier faced by the LGBTQ community in technology applications is the limited recognition and support for diverse gender identities and pronouns. Many platforms and software systems still lack options beyond the binary options of male and female, failing to accommodate individuals who identify outside these labels. This exclusionary practice can perpetuate feelings of invisibility and erasure.

Data collection is another critical area that affects the LGBTQ community. Algorithms that rely on user data can inadvertently reinforce stereotypes and discriminatory practices. For instance, data mining techniques might assume certain traits or preferences based on someone’s sexual orientation, leading to targeted advertising or discriminatory treatment.

Content Moderation

Accessibility and User Experience

Content moderation policies and algorithms have raised concerns in terms of LGBTQ inclusivity. These mechanisms often fail to differentiate between hate speech and discussions around sexual orientation and gender identity, leading to unjust censorship of LGBTQ-related content. Such biases can restrict the community’s ability to share and access important information, support networks, and resources.

Technology applications tend to overlook the unique needs of LGBTQ individuals with regards to accessibility and user experience. For example, some apps might lack inclusivity in terms of language, imagery, or design, promoting heteronormative assumptions and making LGBTQ users feel unwelcome or excluded.



Addressing and Mitigating Bias

Inclusive Design

User Feedback and Consultation

Tech companies must consciously prioritise inclusivity during the design and development process. This includes the adoption of persona-based design methodologies, creating diverse and representative user teams, and aiming for a broad understanding of the LGBTQ community’s unique requirements.


Engaging the LGBTQ community in the decision-making process is crucial. Actively seeking user feedback, conducting surveys, and promoting open dialogue help identify biases and improve the overall user experience, and prioritising transparency and inviting diverse perspectives to address any challenges and foster continuous improvements.

Algorithmic Accountability

Education and Awareness

Algorithmic transparency is instrumental in reducing bias. Tech companies should actively work towards documenting and understanding the impact of their algorithms. Auditing algorithms for bias and involving independent organisations for evaluation can help identify, rectify, and prevent discriminatory practices.

There is a pressing need for continued education and awareness around LGBTQ issues in the technology sector. Including diversity, inclusion, and LGBTQ-related topics in tech curriculums and professional development programs can support and cultivate a more inclusive mindset among developers and decision-makers alike.


However, the responsibility lies not only with tech companies but also with each of us as users, to demand and support more inclusive and unbiased applications.

Together, we can build a digital future that truly embraces and celebrates the diversity within the LGBTQ community.

David Jones-Stanley, Customer Operations Director, Liaison Workforce

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