Unequal opportunities: LGBTQ+ discrimination in the workplace

Unequal opportunities: LGBTQ+ discrimination in the workplace

Key takeaways:

  • 63% of LGBTQ+ employees have faced discrimination in their career, with 70% feeling lonely, misunderstood, marginalized, and excluded at work.
  • With 44% having quit a job due to a lack of acceptance, and 45% being passed over for promotions, there is a clear impact on the career prospects and advancement of LGBTQ+ workers.
  • With 15% of reported discrimination going unaddressed with HR departments and managers, 21% of LGBTQ+ people choose not to report incidents that occur at work.
  • One-third of all LGBTQ+ workers avoid coming out to their colleagues, fearing discrimination (30%), judgment (28%), and for their safety (23%).

Sexual interests and gender identities have absolutely no bearing on our ability to work—and yet being LGBTQ+ in the workplace comes with all sorts of problems: being bombarded by intrusive questions on application forms, being passed up for promotions, and dealing with microaggressions that are too often overlooked by HR departments and managers. 

EduBirdie surveyed 2000 people who identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community on their experiences of discrimination and whether there’s true equality in the workplace today. LGBTQ+ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, and more, describing a person's sexual orientation or gender identity. The results show that despite the corporate world’s apparent efforts to be accepting and inclusive, employers aren’t quite working hard enough.

The unaccepting office: Discrimination against the LGBTQ+ workforce

63% of LGBTQ people have faced workplace discrimination

Despite all the equal opportunity and anti-discrimination policies that businesses have in place to foster LGBTQ+ inclusion in the workplace, bias and ill-treatment is still far too commonplace. Some 63% of LGBTQ+ workers have faced discrimination while on the job.

70% of LGBTQ people don't feel included at work

In what is supposed to be an inclusive space, 70% of the LGBTQ+ workforce don’t feel part of the team at all. In fact, they’re more likely to feel lonely, misunderstood, marginalized, and excluded than they are welcomed.

A barrier to work: The impact of lacking LGBTQ equality on career prospects

44% pf LGBTQ have quit a job due to discrimination

Nobody wants to feel alone and judged for 40 hours a week, and you can only stick it out for so long in a hostile environment before it begins to take a toll on your mental health. Unsurprisingly, 44% of LGBTQ+ workers have had to quit a job due to discrimination or a lack of acceptance.

53% of LGBTQ would decline a job offer

Fearing hostility, a lack of public support for people of all genders and sexualities is a huge turn-off for the LGBTQ+ community, with 53% choosing to decline employers that lack support programs for underrepresented groups.

59% of LGBTQ feel their sexual orientation made their career more difficult

With a resume that shows a history of leaving jobs too soon or prolonged gaps between roles, it’s no wonder 41% of LGBTQ+ people have struggled to find employment in the past. And even once they have their foot in the door, sexual orientation or gender identity often proves to be a barrier to climbing the corporate ladder, with 45% having been passed up for promotions.

Workplace inclusivity: Are employers dealing with discrimination?

44% of LGBTQ workers feel their company is bad at raising awareness

There has been a push within the corporate world to promote LGBT workplace equality in recent years, but are businesses doing enough to highlight the issues faced by their LGBTQ+ employees? While most feel their company is doing enough, 44% believe their employer could do more to raise awareness about their struggles.

20% of LGBTQ employees don't report workplace discrimination

There are plenty of pro-LGBT companies out there that do care. In fact, when informed businesses handle 45% of incidents by issuing warnings, additional training, or firing intolerant employees. However, worryingly, 15% of reported workplace discrimination goes entirely unaddressed by HR departments and management. Fearing that they will be ignored, 21% of LGBTQ+ people choose not to report unfair or abusive treatment.

A team of one: The consequences of discrimination against LGBTQ+ workers

48% of LGBTQ people feel themselves as diversity hire

Prevalent biases mean that diversity quotas are a must to ensure fair LGBTQ+ inclusion in the workplace. While positive, this practice isn’t within its issues—given that 48% of LGBTQ+ people struggle to shake the feeling they were hired because of their sexual orientation or gender identity rather than their skill set.

45% of LGBTQ workers avoid corporate events

Fear of judgment or discrimination doesn't just make LGBTQ+ employees feel uncomfortable, it actively stops many from getting on with their work, networking with industry peers, and progressing their careers. Some 45% admit they have avoided corporate events in the past due to feeling uncomfortable or unwelcome.

Half of LGBTQ people change appearance to fit in at work

For those who identify as LGBTQ, problems such as abuse, conflict, and ridicule are unfortunately often unavoidable. However, to minimize incidents, 51% of LGBTQ+ people actively try to hide who they are by altering their appearance, voice, and mannerisms when they head into the office… But constantly pretending you’re someone you’re not is like a job in itself.

In the corporate closet: The LGBTQ+ worker’s struggle to come out

30% of LGBTQ people are not compfortable sharing their orientation with coworkers

One in three LGBTQ+ workers isn’t comfortable coming out to their colleagues. Among those that are, it took 38% of them months to build up the courage to be open about their sexual orientation or gender identity.

40% of LGBTQ people have had their orientation shared at work withouit consent

For many, the choice to come out to their colleagues in their own time is taken away from them. Some 40% of LGBTQ+ workers have had their sexual orientation or gender identity shared around the workplace without their consent in the past.

56% of LGBTQ people would feel more compfortable in a senior role

Some 56% of LGBTQ+ people feel it would be easier to share who they truly are if they held a more senior role. Dealing out appropriate punishments for discrimination is far easier when you’re the one in charge.

30% of LGBTQ people fear they will face discrimination if they come out

For 30%, it’s the fear of being judged that holds them back from being themselves at work, while 23% are genuinely concerned that coming out would compromise their safety. 

With 71% stating that there are still barriers that stop them from coming out to their colleagues, there’s clearly much work still to do to address LGBTQ+ issues and ensure they feel safe and supported in the corporate world.

Methodology: To create this study, researchers from EduBirdie surveyed 2000 people aged over 18 who identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community. Participants were selected at random with no focus on particular ethnicities or social backgrounds.

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