Global Diversity Practice was recently commissioned by a client to design and deliver a two-day development programme for individuals from an LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group (ERG). The focus of the programme was on overcoming career blockers and accelerating the career trajectory of LGBTQ+ individuals.
Our work involved research into the gifts of being LGBTQ+, drawing upon lived experiences both inside and outside the workplace. This led us to create content around resilience, and channelling resilience to your advantage in order to progress within your field of work as an LGBTQ+ individual.
We found that LGBTQ+ individuals face significant and unique challenges in the workplace, including the threat of harassment, discrimination, social exclusion, and a lack of acceptance. These challenges can significantly impact both the mental and physical health of LGBTQ+ individuals, as well as their overall job satisfaction and career success.
Research by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that one in five LGBTQ+ Americans had faced discrimination when applying for jobs. It also found that 59% of those surveyed said that they believed that LGBTQ+ people in their region had fewer employment opportunities because of their gender identity or sexual orientation. This trend of discrimination has also been identified by the UK charity Stonewall, who in 2018 reported that 18% of LGBTQ+ individuals who were looking for work were discriminated against by possible employers.
This situation is even more specific when it comes to transgender or gender non-conforming individuals, extending to in-person interviews and remote interviews. Even simple interactions like somebody’s voice not matching the employer’s expectation could impact their chances of success. These career blockers for LGBTQ+ individuals continue throughout their career journey. As a result, it has been found that covering, imposter syndrome, and feeling forced to stay in the closet is very common for LGBTQ+ people in the workplace. Covering in this context refers to the act of a person changing their physical appearance, or changing when, where, or how frequently they use the bathroom, as well as avoiding discussions about their personal lives at work. Some individuals do this due to fear of losing their job or because their managers or supervisors have asked them to do so.
In our workshop, we spoke of reclaiming your career narrative and what you can do to help yourself overcome these barriers that are commonly faced in the workplace. We adapted the Circles of Concern, Influence, and Control model (originally devised by Stephen Covey) to help identify where we choose to spend our energy in order to achieve the greatest impact.
Fundamental change at both a societal and organisational level are necessary to improve the experience of LGBTQ+ individuals. At a societal level, further education is needed to bring acceptance of LGBTQ+ individuals into our communities and workplaces.
At an organisational level, organisations must take steps to promote a more inclusive environment for LGBTQ+ individuals. Steps that organisations can take include:
- Develop clear zero tolerance policies.
- Actively communicate equality policy to all staff.
- Pronoun awareness.
- Gender neutral bathrooms.
- Staff training; inclusion awareness, unconscious bias training.
- Support the emergence of organisational LGBTQ+ role models.
- Monitor staff diversity.
- Create employee resource groups / support groups.
To find out more about how Global Diversity Practice can support your organisation towards greater LGBTQ+ inclusion, get in touch.