Perceptions differ on how the LGBTQ+ community fare in the workplace

Despite the growing business case for inclusion, that has not translated into solid gains within the workplace, a new survey and report find.

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In a time of intense scrutiny around inclusivity and racial acceptance, Americans have different viewpoints on what LGBTQ+ representation means in the workplace, according to new research.
 
Overall, 86% of professionals said they feel that their workplace is a safe space for LGBTQ+ individuals, according to a recently released survey of over 2,000 responses by Blind, an anonymous professional network. However, that number decreases by 10% (76%) when answered by LGB+ community.

"There is an even starker decline within the trans and gender non-binary community, where only 64% feel their workplace is a safe space for LGBTQ+ individuals," the Blind survey said. 

By comparison, in 2019, the numbers were slightly higher: Overall, 91% of professionals said they felt safe in the workplace, along with 83% of LGB+ professionals, and 78% of trans and gender non-binary professionals.

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These findings are echoed by McKinsey, which noted in a report this week that "a growing business case for inclusion has not translated into solid gains for the LGBTQ+ community within the workplace itself."

The Blind survey also asked respondents if their company has inclusive family and health policies available for LGBTQ+ employees. Overall, 74% of professionals said yes. However, "We continue to see declines as we take a closer look at members across the queer spectrum,'' Blind said. Sixty-nine percent of LGB+ professionals said yes, and 64% of trans or gender-non-conforming respondents said yes.

A more significant disparity was found in a question about whether respondents' sexual orientation or gender identity is represented in the upper management/C-level of their company? Overall, 55% of professionals said yes–but only 35% of LGB+ professionals said yes. Forty-one percent of trans and gender non-binary community said yes.

The McKinsey report found that LGBTQ+ women are more underrepresented than women generally in the country's largest corporations.

"Just four openly LGBTQ+ CEOs head these corporations, only one of whom is female and none of whom is trans,'' the report stated. "It's thus not surprising that LGBTQ+ women and trans employees often feel isolated from one another in the workplace, creating a more negative workplace experience and affecting their motivation to become a top executive."

LGBTQ+ women also face increased rates of sexual harassment and discrimination based on gender and orientation, according to McKinsey. Moreover, trans employees face a distinct set of obstacles to performance and career progression, the research firm said.

Blind's surveys "indicate that perspectives play a significant role,'' said co-founder, Kyum Kim. "While 86% of the professionals feel their workplace is safe for LGBTQ+ employees, LGBTQ+ employees themselves feel less safe with 76% for gay, lesbian, bisexual, or queer professionals and 64% for trans or gender non-conforming professionals." 

Kim added that "These results are a reminder that empathy is crucial in creating an inclusive workplace. Understanding that, depending on who you are, you will perceive things differently."

The new generation of workers are increasingly choosing careers based on diversity and inclusion, McKinsey said. "Companies must move beyond public gestures of support for LGBTQ+ issues to create a more positive work experience." Additional efforts are especially needed right now with the added health risks and isolation of remote working in the coronavirus era, the firm stressed.
 
Blind said its user base of over 3.6 million users includes more than 49,000 employees from Microsoft, 34,000 from Amazon, 13,000 from Google, 10,000 from Facebook, 9,000 from Uber, 8,000 from Apple, 6,000 from LinkedIn, and 5,000 from Salesforce, among other companies. 

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