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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, July 6, 2018 - Volume 46 Issue 27
Almost half of LGBT employees in closet at work, new study says
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Almost half of LGBT employees in closet at work, new study says

Negative stereotypes still exist, HRC says

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Almost half of LGBT employees are in the closet at work, according to a new study by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). The research found that 46% of LGBT employees in the US hide their sexuality in their workplaces.

This represented a mere 4% drop from the HRC's 2008 Degrees of Equality report, which was created before Barack Obama's presidency, before same-sex marriage was legalized across the US, and before Transgender rights became a prominent issue in the civil rights struggle.

A similar survey by the British LGBT rights organization Stonewall revealed that 35% of LGBT people in the UK remain in the closet at work.

One of the reasons may be bullying or fear of bullying at work. A study published last year by CareerBuilder showed that four out of 10 LGBT workers feel bullied at work. Of those surveyed, 15% said they had called in sick after being bullied.

Research released earlier this month found that only 55% of adult Americans feel OK about working with LGBT people.

According to the just-released HRC survey, 53% of American LGBT workers have heard jokes about Lesbian or Gay people at least once while at work.

One in five LGBT employees reported to the HRC that they had been told or had colleagues imply that they should dress in manner more standard for their gender.

Not surprisingly, nearly one in three LGBT people said they felt unhappy or depressed at work.

When asked directly by researchers why they choose to remain closeted at work, one in four respondents said they didn't want to be stereotyped, while more than one in three said they were worried about making co-workers feel uncomfortable.

More than one in four LGBT employees reported they were worried losing connections or relationships with colleagues, or about co-workers thinking that they might be attracted to them because they are LGBT.

Deena Fidas, director of the HRC's Workplace Equality Program, said that the accepting, inclusive face that many companies show in their public relations materials is not necessarily reflected in how their employees actually feel.

'While LGBTQ-inclusive corporate policies are becoming the norm, LGBTQ workers too often face a climate of bias in their workplace,' she said in a statement.

'LGBTQ employees are still avoiding making personal and professional connections at work because they fear coming out - and that hurts not only that employee but the company as a whole.

'Even the best-of-the-best private sector employers with top-rated policies and practices must do more to nurture a climate of inclusion for all.'

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