Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Majority of workers hide sexual orientation at work

Fifty-one percent of LGBT workers are not out to most or all of their co-workers. The new report released today from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation found that "even with inclusive employment policies, significant numbers of employees report negative consequences of an unwelcoming environment for LGBT employees. Moreover, the vast majority of LGBT workers do not report instances when they hear an anti-LGBT remark to HR or management. On average, 67 percent ignore it or let it go, 9 percent raise the issue with a supervisor and only 5 percent go to HR." Wow. I'm not too surprised though. You can't legislate tolerance let alone acceptance. But the real shocker is that "younger workers are even more likely to hide their LGBT identity – only 5 percent of LGBT employees ages 18 to 24 say they are totally open at work." The younger generation say they don't need gay bars because they can go to straight clubs and have a good time. For the last decade, more and more gay bars have closed down due to lack of business. Gay communities have struggled to exist. Many people say that for the younger generation it's easier to be gay. We are told that North American society, overall, is "okay" with homosexuality. Oh, really? Then why are the younger LGBT's not out of the closet in the workplace?

The report is available for download at www.DegreesOfEquality.org.

365gay.com reports:
The report, “Degrees of Equality: A National Study Examining Workplace Climate for LGBT Employees,” found that, despite significant advances in employment policies at major U.S. corporations, a majority of LGBT workers continue to experience a range of negative consequences because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. Younger workers are even more likely to hide their LGBT identity – only 5 percent of LGBT employees ages 18 to 24 say they are totally open at work, compared to more than 20 percent in older age cohorts.

“Overall attitudes towards LGBT people have come a long way, but we can’t forget that people still struggle at work and that this has a profound impact on LGBT workers’ careers,” said Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. “Degrees of Equality helps us bridge the gap between policy and practice to fully understand LGBT workers’ experiences. The more we understand the workplace, the more we can help usher it to a place where all employees can thrive.”

As reasons for hiding their identities, 39 percent fear losing connections, 28 percent fear not being considered for advancement, 17 percent fear getting fired and more than one in ten (13 percent) fear for their personal safety. Transgender workers are much more likely than other groups to report fearing for their personal safety – 40 percent compared to 20 percent of gay men. And 42 percent of transgender workers feared getting fired if they revealed their LGBT identity, compared to 22 percent of gay men.

At least once per week, 89 percent of LGBT employees say conversations about social lives, 80 percent confront conversations involving spouses, relationships and dating at least once per week and 50 percent say the topic of sex arises at least once a week. These conversations are the most likely to make LGBT employees feel uncomfortable: fewer than half feel very comfortable talking about any of these topics.

Derogatory comments and jokes still happen at work and are a major indicator that it is unsafe to be open about their sexual orientation and/or gender identity at work. A total of 58 percent of LGBT workers say someone at work makes a joke or derogatory comment about LGBT people at least once in a while.