Rainbow-themed logos and public words of inclusion from companies don’t always translate to true equity for LGBTQ employees, and a lack of support is leading many to remain closeted at work.
In a recent survey by job insights platform Glassdoor, 55% of LGBTQ employees — approximately 8 million workers in the U.S., according to a 2021 report from UCLA — report they have experienced or witnessed anti-LGBTQ comments by co-workers. As a result, 45% of employed queer Americans say they believe being “out” at work could hurt their careers, whether the result is not being selected for a project, being overlooked for a promotion or even losing a job.
Read more: 30 LGBTQ-friendly companies hiring remote workers
“A truly great workplace is one that welcomes and encourages diverse voices, perspectives and ideas,” said Tyler Murphy, Glassdoor career trends expert and an active member of Glassdoor’s PRIDE employee resource group (ERG), in an email. “But finding a company that allows employees to be their authentic selves at work hasn’t always been easy.”
Although the choice to come out in the workplace is deeply personal and can be influenced by several factors, it’s never been more important for workplaces to create environments where it’s safe to do so. So far in 2023, 498 anti-transgender bills have been proposed across 49 states, according to the Trans Legislation Tracker. Currently, 361 proposals are awaiting a decision; 44 have passed and 93 have failed. In Florida, the state’s “don’t say gay” law prohibits the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identities in public schools, leaving many LGBTQ families in need of more support. Workplaces, Murphy says, can provide that.
Read more: This trans, nonbinary C-suite exec discusses today’s culture of DEI
“When looking for an LGBTQ-friendly company to work for, keep an eye out for things like LGBTQ ERGs or LGBTQ benefits and inclusive language in their job listings,” Murphy said. “Further, job seekers should also check out the company’s Glassdoor profile to see how other LGBTQ employees rate working there and ask questions about how the company supports their community during the interview process.”
Glassdoor currently offers features that make it easy for prospective applicants to sort through companies on their site that have ranked highly on their five-point scale by LGBTQ employees, specifically. For example, if an applicant were to filter the reviews by sexual orientation and identity today, they would find companies like Box, United Airlines and Sprout Social. But the onus to find these companies can’t fall entirely on queer workers; employers have to make themselves more visible, too.
Read more: How to support your LGBTQ employees beyond Pride Month
The job insights platform suggests creating LGBTQ ERGs, building educational programming and encouraging all employees to share their preferred pronouns as just a few ways to signal true support to queer workers — both present and future.
“This survey data shines a light on the LGBTQ employee experience and is a reminder that many companies still have progress to make when it comes to improving the workplace experiences of their LGBTQ employees,” Murphy said. “Everyone deserves to work at a company that allows them to bring their full selves to work every day.”