Gold Beyond the Rainbow

Improving the LGBTQ Experience in the Workplace

A blue sky background dominated by fluffy white coulds that have hues of orange, pink and purple. Clouds reflect a faded rainbow.

Companies across the globe are celebrating the rainbow, and according to a 30-Country Ipsos Global Advisor Survey, LGBTQ+ visibility is up. Is that enough?  (Photo: davidschrader via Depositphotos)

If a company culture does not leave space for an employee’s whole identity, they must decide whether to leave part of themselves at home. When faced with the choice, many will keep their identity and leave the company. According to a June 2022 survey by LinkedIn and YouGov, 65% of LGBTQ respondents said they would leave their current job if they felt they did not feel comfortable expressing their identity.

For those who stay, they are more likely to mask their identity for the sake of their inclusion and opportunities for advancement. According to a nationally representative survey by the Center for American Progress, “half of LGBTQI+ adults reported experiencing some form of workplace discrimination or harassment in the past year because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or intersex status.” Along with facing verbal, physical, or sexual harassment, respondents lost jobs, promotional opportunities, and work hours, because they chose to be themselves at work.

The Cost of Poor Wellbeing

We cannot understate the impact this has on the well-being of the individual and, if that is not enough, the organization as a whole. Employee wellbeing costs the individual and the company.

In fact, Gallup estimates that poor wellbeing has the potential cost of “$20 million of additional lost opportunity for every 10,000 workers due to struggling or suffering employees” and “$322 billions of turnover and lost productivity cost globally due to employee burnout.”

So, are all of your employees well? Because a DEI plan of inclusion that fails to include the LGBTQ+ community fails. A recent S&P Global report noted that a majority of the 10,000 companies evaluated worked to improve workplace culture by implementing a policy of zero tolerance for discrimination, and publishing statements against sexual and non-sexual harassment. However, the report notes a potential disconnect since only a fraction of those same companies offered training on anti-discrimination and harassment; defined the escalation process; or set a corrective action in the circumstance of policy breach.

Improving the LGBTQ Experience in the Workplace

We can’t celebrate the rainbow if we are not equipped to join the battle. To improve the LGBTQ experience in the workplace, we must ask: How can employers raise awareness to educate themselves and drive inclusion? How can we learn from the LGBTQ+ experience and address the challenges they face? Finding the answers to these questions is a bit like the search for gold beyond the rainbow, except it’s not proverbial; these answers exist in the real world. Finding them often begins with listening. Do not underestimate the power of awareness.

Best regards,

P.S. To learn more about this issue, join Peace, Love, Revolution: A Virtual Pride Month Celebration, and visit the resources below: