Lgbt Inclusion In The Workplace – Today’s LGBTQ workforce has undergone a fundamental generational shift, both in how it defines itself and what it expects from inclusion in the workplace. The LGBTQ workforce is much more racially diverse and more likely to include women, transgender employees and people of more diverse sexual orientations than in the past, particularly among younger generations. Of LGBTQ employees under 35, 28% are people of color who identify as women, compared to just 2% of those 55 and older. As a result, the diversity, equity and inclusion programs in place at many companies, while beneficial, are no longer sufficient.

Together, they and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center of New York City, a nonprofit advocacy and service organization, surveyed 2,000 LGBTQ employees and 2,000 non-LGBTQ (straight) employees in the United States. The goal was to understand the experiences of today’s LGBTQ workforce and how companies can create more inclusive workplaces. The findings show that, despite significant investments and decades of hard work, organizations still need to do more. Consider that 40% of LGBTQ employees are closeted at work and 75% reported experiencing daily negative workplace interactions related to their LGBTQ identity in the past year.

Lgbt Inclusion In The Workplace

Lgbt Inclusion In The Workplace

Diversity and inclusion (D&I) leaders must focus on cultural change in order to improve employee interactions with colleagues, direct managers and leadership – what we call “1,000 daily touch points”. Negative touchpoints are costly: Employees who experience more negative touchpoints are 40% less productive and 13 times more likely to leave their jobs.

How To Organise An Lgbt Speaker & Training In The Workplace

The evolving makeup of the LGBTQ workforce and its multifaceted makeup present challenges to changing organizational culture, but in this complexity lies the solution. Future D&I efforts targeting LGBTQ employees must recognize multiple personal attributes beyond sexual orientation and gender identity. Demographic factors (such as race, generation, and immigrant status) and lifestyle factors (such as gatekeeper status, religiosity, management level, and income) cause each LGBTQ employee to have a different life experience. Successful culture change will require a “segment of one” lens to recognize the life context and unique needs of each employee. This is a new approach for many US companies, but critical to creating truly inclusive workplaces.

Additionally, it’s not just LGBTQ employees who are in tune with an organization’s culture. Straight Gen Z and millennial employees, who will soon make up the majority of the workforce, also care about inclusion and are more likely to support it than previous generations. In light of this, there are clear benefits for companies that get it right: better financial performance, stronger innovation, less attrition and a more engaged workforce.

The confluence of current events amplifies the urgency of an updated approach to D&I. COVID-19 and the associated economic downturn disproportionately impact the health, well-being, employment and economic security of people of color, women, caregivers, part-time workers, employees with physical conditions and mental and employees with non-traditional family arrangements. Recent demonstrations for racial equity greatly amplify structural biases that impact the health, well-being, and ability of people of color to “show up” at work. These identities cut across the LGBTQ workforce and reinforce the need to adopt a segment-of-one lens in your D&I strategy. Shortsighted organizations will remain silent or double down on old approaches. However, organizations should use this moment as an opportunity to invest in new tools to create organization-wide accountability, redesign working models and change cultures to become more inclusive and accessible.

LGBTQ rights have made significant progress over the past 20 years, and most American companies have played a central role in shaping public opinion and promoting LGBTQ diversity in the workplace. Most of these efforts have focused on developing equitable HR policies and benefits and creating employee resource groups (ERGs). These actions have generated positive results: according to the 2020 edition of the Human Rights Campaign’s annual Corporate Equality Index, 65% of all companies evaluated have a perfect score of 100. Among large companies, the numbers look even better: the score average of Fortune 500 companies that participated is 90%. All of these companies have non-discrimination policies regarding sexual orientation and almost all (98%) regarding gender identity. Additionally, 91% have made public commitments to the LGBTQ community and 88% enjoy trans-inclusive benefits.

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This is significant progress compared to a generation ago. Yet despite these efforts, the inescapable fact is that most LGBTQ employees don’t feel truly included in the workplace.

In March 2020, we partnered with an expert in inclusion and community building, the LGBT Community Center of New York, to interview more than 2,000 LGBTQ employees and 2,000 straight employees working in the United States across all industries and company sizes. (Some transgender people may identify as straight, but for the purposes of this discussion we will use the general term “straight” to refer to non-LGBTQ employees.)

These numbers illustrate the difference between diversity (where a company hires people from different backgrounds) and inclusion (those people feel free and encouraged to bring their authentic selves to work). The gap between the two comes at a high cost in terms of engagement. According to our research, LGBTQ employees who are out feel psychologically safer, more empowered to speak out, and more capable of taking creative risks. (See Exhibit 1.) Quite simply, employees who feel they have to hide a crucial part of their identity while in the office are failing to do their best work.

Lgbt Inclusion In The Workplace

A key issue is that early D&I initiatives aimed to establish anti-discrimination and non-retaliation policies. Subsequent efforts focused on equal benefits, ERGs, and recruiting processes were designed to level the playing field. These programs tended to cover formal interactions but did not address everyday, informal interactions. Nor were they intended to activate the entire workforce around inclusion. In this way, such policies and initiatives have been essential but are no longer sufficient to create an inclusive work environment or change the behaviors and prejudices of majority groups.

Pride At Work

Despite significant progress in some areas, the inescapable fact is that most LGBTQ employees don’t feel truly included in the workplace.

Additionally, ERGs, while useful, tend to have a disproportionately high number of white and gay men, who in the 1990s and early 2000s were the most visible group among the LGBTQ workforce. Today, some ERGs still need to adapt to the changing makeup of the LGBTQ workforce and address its biggest challenges. (See “Employee Resource Groups Must Evolve to Continue Supporting Progress.”) If companies want to create more inclusive cultures, they need to understand how the makeup of the LGBTQ workforce is evolving and the unique challenges these employees face .

Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are affinity organizations where specific types of company employees can come together to network, support each other, and pressure company leadership for policy changes. Most medium to large companies have multiple ERGs, broken down by gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and other life experiences and characteristics. Over the years, ERGs have led efforts to secure leadership commitments to D&I, recruit LGBTQ employees, expand benefits, and support greater inclusion, resulting in significant progress for many LGBTQ employees. (The first such group to support LGBTQ employees dates back to 1998.)

Yet some of these groups have unintentionally replicated the prejudices that appear in society. In the early years of the LGBTQ rights movement within corporate America, there were more white and gay men than lesbians, transgender individuals, people of other sexual identities, and LGBTQ people of color who were visible and visible in the workplace and they held political capital. As a result, ERGs and their leadership unintentionally tended to be disproportionately made up of white, gay men. Some ERGs still need to evolve, in terms of leadership representation and organizational goals, but young LGBTQ employees today are more diverse and are rallying for shared responsibility and cultural change. They are less likely to join an ERG to assert their increasingly intersectional identities. (Indeed, in our survey, many refused to be identified by a single demographic category, and among Gen-Z respondents, ERGs were the D&I initiative with the least impact on inclusion.)

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Bottom line: ERGs are a valuable tool that has produced significant progress for LGBTQ employees. But as the workforce and its needs change, ERGs must evolve to reflect the full range of LGBTQ perspectives and remain relevant in future D&I efforts.

Our research identified two central trends. First, the composition of the LGBTQ workforce has changed dramatically, highlighting the need to evolve traditional approaches to D&I. Second, young heterosexual employees are increasingly attuned to LGBTQ issues, signaling a much broader audience that cares about inclusion.

Our survey found that LGBTQ employees represent a larger share of the overall workforce. This comes from a significant increase in the number of women identifying as LGBTQ (along with a smaller increase in men identifying as LGBTQ). Among all respondents, 54% of LGBTQ employees are women. And this trend is even more pronounced among younger respondents: Women make up 71% of the LGBTQ population aged 25 to 34 and 78% of those aged 18 to 24.

Lgbt Inclusion In The Workplace

Today’s younger LGBTQ workforce is more racially diverse than even older LGBTQ cohorts. Most people aged 18 to 24 are non-white (53%), versus just 7% of those aged 55 or 55.

Striving For Authenticity

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