What You Can Do To Support LGBTQ+ Employees Year Round

June 1, 2021

This June, LinkedIn is recognizing Pride Month by rallying around the power of authenticity at work, sharing stories, and driving meaningful conversations around the diverse experiences of LGBTQ+ professionals around the world through our #ConversationsForChange series. This topic is so important and personal to me. Six years ago, I nervously started my first job search. As a queer Black woman - and the first in my family to graduate from college - I prepared for the worst. To my surprise, I found a community of other queer women in that first job, many of them in leadership positions. I took notice as they confidently mentioned their weekend plans with their partners on Friday afternoon meetings and I made the calculation it was safe to do the same. In the years since, I’ve ‘come out at work’ in interviews, intros, and meetings large and small. It is my hope that I’m helping to pave the way for those who come after me to do the same.

The reality is that my experience does not represent everyone in our community. It was not until last year that federal protections made it illegal to fire workers for being gay, bisexual or transgender. Even with more inclusive legislation protecting my community, LGBTQ+ people continue to feel “othered” in the workplace and were significantly impacted by COVID-era job loss. New data from LinkedIn sheds light on the challenges LGBTQ+ people in the US are facing at work today, and the meaningful actions companies and allies can take to build more inclusive workplaces. I’m proud LinkedIn stands for LGBTQ+ workers rights and is amplifying the stories of 5 professionals who share why having the space to be their authentic self is key to thriving at work.   

The data shows that while we’ve made strides, there is more work to be done. Nearly 1 in 4 survey respondents said they hide their identity at work and worry they would be treated differently if they came out. Of those who are out at work, another 25% have been overlooked or intentionally passed by for career advancement opportunities - think promotions and raises - because they are out. Even more, 31%, say they have faced blatant discrimination and microagressions in the workplace, with 1 in 4 leaving a job all together because they did not feel accepted. And at a time when so many are working to recover from job loss, nearly half of LGBTQ+ professionals believe being out will negatively impact their job search. When we consider intersections like race and ethnicity, disability, age, or socioeconomic status, it can become increasingly rare to find inclusive workspaces where a sense of belonging is possible. When we do have safe workplaces, being free to share more parts of our lives at work can feel like a lifted weight, it can be an opportunity to connect with others for support and can also help us build our professional networks. But this requires employers to think beyond the one month a year where we celebrate Pride, and take action year round to build environments rooted in inclusion and belonging.

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Based on our survey data, here are some of the best ways companies and colleagues can support LGBTQ+ employees at work:  

  • Establish clear anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies. LGBTQ+ people want their employers to have clear, enforceable policies in place to ensure workplaces are free of discrimination and microagressions, while also offering education and bias training for managers and individual contributors. Companies can add policies that include trans-inclusive healthcare coverage, domestic-partner benefits, gender neutral bathrooms and more. 
  • Commit to inclusive hiring practices and goals. 77% of LGBTQ+ professionals told us that it is important that a prospective employer expresses an outward commitment to supporting LGBTQ+ employees. In particular, nearly half of survey respondents wanted to see their company implement more inclusive hiring practices. At LinkedIn, we take part in the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index, the national benchmarking tool on corporate policies, practices and benefits pertinent to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer employees to ensure we are supporting LGBTQ+ employees equitably.

  • Look for opportunities to create safe spaces. 1 in 3 survey respondents worked at companies without dedicated resources for LGBTQ+ employees but nearly 50% of LGBTQ+ professionals are looking for their employer to create safe spaces like employee resource groups and formally recognized networking events. At LinkedIn, our Out@In employee resource group works to engage, empower, and elevate the LGBTQ+ community at LinkedIn.

Allies and peer support are also a major contributor to safety and belonging at work. LGBTQ+ professionals say the top ways colleagues can support them in the workplace are by taking a stand if they hear an inappropriate comment, educating themselves with inclusion and anti-bias training, reporting any discrimination they see to HR, and by respecting proper pronouns for gender identification.

At LinkedIn, our vision is to create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce. We are responsible for intentionally addressing equity and inclusion both within our workforce and for our millions of members and customers. We hope these research insights help spark conversations that lead to meaningful change. To join in the conversation, people are encouraged to share on LinkedIn why they’re proud to be their authentic self at work using #OutOnLinkedIn and #ConversationsForChange. Support your colleagues as an active ally by adding a Pride banner to your LinkedIn profile and by using Pride stickers in your LInkedIn stories. To help drive meaningful conversations about what we can do to ensure LGBTQ+ professionals are able to thrive at work, RuPaul will be joining LinkedIn on June 1 to share a personal perspective gleaned from his barrier-breaking career, including advice about unapologetically being your authentic self and how you can help others shine.