This article was published on August 31st, 2021
Gay and bisexual men in North America, Australia, and Europe earn, on average, seven percent less than their heterosexual counterparts.
In a study published in the Journal of Population Economics, researchers from Anglia Ruskin University analyzed 24 studies published between 2012 and 2020 and found that workplace discrimination still exists despite legislation and workplace guidelines.
According to Professor Nick Nick Drydakis, author of the study and Director of the Centre for Pluralist Economics at ARU, “Legislation and workplace guidelines should guarantee that people receive the same pay, and not experience any form of workplace bias simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity status.”
However, that seems not to be the case.
Seven percent sounds like a small number. However, when considered over a career spanning decades, the differences become more pronounced. Compounding takes effect, driving gay and bi incomes further down.
While the average disparity hovers around seven percent, marked differences occur among different regions.
In America, for example, homosexual and bisexual men earn 10.7 percent less than their straight counterparts. Bisexual men face an even tougher wage battle making, on average, 10.3 percent than straight men.
In contrast, lesbians, on average, earn 7.1 percent more than heterosexual women, according to the study.
“Arguments focusing on lesbian’s earnings premiums in relation to masculine characteristics, which stereotypically characterize lesbian women and demonstrate leadership, have been utilized to evaluate their experiences,” says Professor Drydakis.
“Lesbians might prove less likely to have children than married women, so it makes sense that they may earn more because of their commitment to the labor market.”
He said that a “peripheral explanation for the lesbian earnings premium might revolve around women with children earning less than women without children.”
In addition to these income disparities, gay men are more likely to experience poverty and a lower annual income. It’s significantly worse for gay men of color and transgender persons.
Indeed, these gay, bisexual, and trans people are more likely to be on some form of state welfare program such as housing benefit, income support, food assistance programs, among others.
Raising the income bar
The gay community must stand for equal wages and freedom from discrimination at work.
However, it’s not just the community. While laws protect LGBT people from discrimination at work because of their sexual orientation, enforcement can sometimes be a problem.
Employers will find other legal or non-legal loopholes to deny gay men their rightful wages.
For example, some queer men have been denied promotions because they don’t have families. The argument usually goes something like this: Most gays don’t have families. Therefore, compared to a heterosexual man with a family, they do not need the extra income.
Other employers consider gay men irresponsible because, again, they don’t have families. They typically argue that if you can’t handle managing a family, how can we expect you to manage other employees?
Both are erroneous and discriminative arguments. Having a family is no guarantee that someone will be a good manager or even good at their job.
Most queers are incredibly hard-working people, extremely passionate about their jobs and careers. They give it their all. For that, they deserve fair and equal pay.
According to Professor Nick Drydakis, “Inclusive policies should embrace diversity by encouraging under-represented groups to apply for jobs or promotions and providing support to LGBTIQ+ employees to raise concerns and receive fair treatment. He continues, “Standing against discrimination and celebrating and supporting LGBTIQ+ diversity should form a part of HR policies.”
Gay and bisexual men cannot afford to continue receiving subpar wages. While you wait for legislation enforcement to catch up, take matters into your hands and ask for the salary you deserve.
How do you do that?
- Talk to other people in the industry or peers in your own company and get their perspectives on salary. You may realize you’re underearning people who do the same or less work.
- Check online sources for average salaries in your industry and for your position.
- Think outside the box. It’s not always about the figure on your paycheck. Can you get more vacation days, stock options, remote work, or other flexible working schedules?
- Do your homework and prepare your salary raise case early. Document your results and achievements at work and use that to negotiate a better salary at your annual review.
- Finally, be so good that you simply can’t be ignored. Marginalized people sometimes have to work twice as hard to receive the same recognition. It’s not fair, but it’s the reality. The sooner you realize that and use it to your advantage, the better for you and your bank account.