The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), one of our leading LGBTQI equality advocacy organizations, has published a study on LGBTQI employees in the workplace and the findings are concerning, to say the least.
HRC’s “A Workplace Divided: Understanding the Climate for LGBTQ Workers Nationwide” is filled with disheartening stats in which an article (Study Reveals Less Than Half of LGBT Workers Are Out at Work) by the LGBTQI publication, the Advocate, helps to break down and understand. And they jump right in with the dismal findings.
Despite the substantial strides in equality that the LGBT community has made over the past ten years, including the nationwide establishment of marriage equality in 2015, the study reveals that LGBT workers still experience discrimination substantial enough to prevent people from feeling comfortable enough to come out to their colleagues.
The article goes on to provide stats listed in the HRC study that are a telling sign of our society has still yet to progress in LGBTQI acceptance in the workplace.
- 46 percent of LGBT workers claim to be closeted at work
- one in five LGBT workers say their colleagues have told them to dress in a more feminine or masculine way
- 53 percent of LGBT workers hear jokes about gay men or lesbians in their workplace
- 31 percent of LGBT workers report feeling unhappy or depressed at work.
Why isn’t anything done about this? Why aren’t LGBTQI people speaking up and communicating with their superiors about their discomfort and the discrimination they see in the workplace? Well, the study has explanations for why.
The study also revealed that the most reported reason that LGBT workers don’t come forward to their superiors about their discomfort is that they don’t believe doing so would bring any change to the work environment, and they fear damaging the relationships they have with colleagues.
The survey showed that 45 percent of LGBT workers agreed that the enforcement of any nondiscrimination policy depends on their supervisor’s personal inclinations toward LGBT people, with 13 percent of LGBT workers expressing that they feel they would be terminated due to their workplace’s lack of tolerance toward LGBTQ people.
This isn’t the first time HRC has done this study. The LGBTQ advocacy organization has performed the study three different times. What is most interesting is that the numbers for LGBTQI tolerance and acceptance in the workplace have only slightly dipped then since national marriage equality.
This is the third study HRC has conducted since 2015 regarding the levels of acceptance that LGBT employees feel in the workplace. The previous two studies, titled “Degrees of Equality” and “The Cost of the Closet and the Reward of Inclusion,” revealed that over half of LGBT workers were closeted in their places of work.
Whereas the 2012 study showed that 43 percent of non-LGBT people expressed discomfort in hearing about an LGBT coworker’s dating, that number is now down to 36 percent. The same 2012 study revealed that 75 percent of non-LGBT workers believed it to be unprofessional to talk about sexual orientation or gender identity in the workplace, and that number is down to 59 percent today.
But there are some positive findings in the slew of the dismal study.
Some statistics from the study showed encouraging signs of improvements toward acceptance since the previous two surveys. For example, one of the topics the most recent study was heavily concerned with was the “chit-chat” that takes place during work that, although not related to work itself, is integral in fostering dynamics, rapports, and relationships among colleagues.
To get the full study, A Workplace Divided: Understanding the Climate for LGBTQ Workers Nationwide, by HRC click here.