This article was published on August 24th, 2022
It’s sad to report that homophobia, transphobia and various other forms of discrimination are still alive in the 21st century. These issues are an everyday occurrence for many LGBTQ+ people, both in everyday life and in the workplace. This is by far not okay. It’s hard to tackle this issue because it’s deeply rooted in the corporate world that’s mostly reserved for cis white men, however, if you’re a business owner who wants to change things in your company or an LGBTQ+ employee who wants to start conversations about the subject, here are a few things you need to know.
Discrimination in the workplace
Let’s look at some bleak numbers first. Almost 30% of LGBT employees have experienced some form of employment discrimination which includes not being hired due to their sexuality or gender expression or being fired because of it. One-third of LGBT employees of color and one-quarter of Caucasian LGBT workers experience hiring and firing issues due to their identity or sexuality. As you can see, people of color are more likely to experience hiring issues than their white peers, which adds racism on top of the sexuality issues.
Verbal and physical harassment
More than one-third of LGBT employees (37.7%) have experienced some form of harassment based on their gender identity or sexual orientation. These reports include everything from verbal harassment to physical altercations like being punched, pushed or even seriously beaten up. Once again, LGBT people of color are more likely to experience harassment over their white colleagues, with trans people being the most discriminated against.
The added stress for LGBTQ+ people in the workplace comes from not being out to their colleagues and administration, which creates the need for masking behaviors. These covering behaviors include changing the way one walks, dresses and talks, how and where they go to the toilet and avoiding mentioning their private lives at work. In many cases, people don’t choose to exhibit covering behaviors but were asked to do so by supervisors. Again, trans people are more likely to cover their true selves. The stress also comes from being forced to come out on a daily bases, which is a burden for many workers.
Creating a more inclusive workplace
Many workplaces today are trying their best to create environments welcoming for all people, which includes investing in LGBT discrimination prevention. There are many ways to make the hiring process more inclusive. First of all, many successful companies are opting for recruitment process outsourcing which offers fair opportunities to all employees. These are very objective ways of hiring and ensure good workplace loyalty, happiness and productivity for all employees.
Creating anti-discrimination policies and groups are also worthy efforts companies take to make their workplace more inclusive, but these don’t always work. In many cases, LGBTQ+ workers don’t feel welcome in their employee resource groups, however, the percentage is small (31% when compared to 67% of those who feel welcome).
Other effective inclusion policies used by companies that want to improve inclusion in their workplace are:
- Mentoring programs with good matching systems across all genders, ages, races and sexual identities.
- Including non-traditional families in work-family initiatives.
- Fixing the dress code, AKA allowing people to dress according to their wishes and avoiding creating any gender stereotypes.
- Creating diversity and inclusion training on homophobia, transphobia and discrimination for all members of the organization, not just those in Human Resources or those exhibiting problematic behaviors.
- Fixing internal communication culture that focuses only on heterosexuality and heterosexual families, taking these as a norm.
- Taking time to ask and listen to LGBTQ employees on the subject of discrimination and taking their tips on how to be more inclusive.
We are not just going to wake up one day with homophobia, transphobia and discrimination being gone. This is a marathon battle that requires all people to do their part and choose to improve their attitudes. Things are looking better but we still have a long way to go, so stay strong.