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LGBTQ Workers Still Struggle With Inclusivity in the Workplace, Studies Show

Over half of LGBTQ professionals believe being "out" in the workplace could hurt their career prospects

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Kindra Cooper

LGBT in the workplace

It’s 2019, but LGBTQ workers still struggle with inclusivity in the workplace. Earlier this month, TD Bank and TD securities released a workplace and financial equality survey, which found that 60 percent of LGBTQ millennials polled admitted to having less than three months of emergency savings.

The outlook isn’t much brighter for the average American: just 18 percent of all American workers have enough savings to cover three to five months of expenses, according to 

TD Bank surveyed over 6,100 full-time and part-time LGTBQ workers, and found that only half rate their current financial situation positively. Seventy-one percent of respondents with a bachelor’s degree are struggling with student loan debt, and nearly one-fifth are financing loans of $100,000 or more. 

LGTBQ workers are reluctant to come out at work

Because of prevailing workforce discrimination, half of all LGBTQ workers remain closeted at work, a report from the Human Rights Campaign finds. One in five workers reports having been told or had coworkers imply that they should dress more masculine or feminine. Most don’t report negative comments about their sexual orientation to their supervisor or human resources because they don’t believe anything will be done and/or they don’t want to jeopardize relationships with their coworkers. 

Meanwhile, a Glassdoor LGTBQ Workplace Survey found that nearly half of LGBTQ workers believe being out could hurt their career prospects or promotions.

Read more: 3 Ways Brands Are Showing the LGBTQIA+ Love This Month

“It’s a mixture of intentional and unintentional comments that can occur,” Scott Dobroski, senior director of corporate communications at Glassdoor, told CBS News. “What it illustrates is, there is a need for education about what is appropriate in the workplace for any minority group.” 

Statistics from the TD Banks survey show that LGBTQ workplace equality is still an uphill battle:

  • Over one-fifth (22%) of millennial workers feel that being out about their sexual orientation to more senior staff will hurt their career advancement
  • While millennial workers are equally likely as older generations to be out in the workplace, less than one-third (33%) of millennial workers see senior management members who are out as LGBTQ2+ community members

How employers can promote LGBTQ equality and diversity in the workplace

Millennial workers are more wary of employers that don’t actively enforce employment non-discrimination policies to ensure a level playing field in the workplace. When choosing a job, almost two-thirds of LGBTQ candidates will research the employer’s reputation for inclusivity.

“The freedom to be your fullest self that equality enables in each of us can empower success in every facet of our lives,” said Jonathan Lovitz, senior vice president at the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce. 

Read more: AARP and Refinery29 Take on Ageism in the Advertising Industry

When it comes to creating an inclusive workplace for LGBTQ workers, employers must do more to keep up with the cultural shifts driven by conversations around inclusivity, gender identity and diversity.

  • 42 percent of millennial LGBTQ2+ workers either use gender-neutral pronouns for themselves or have a partner or close friend that uses gender-neutral pronouns, compared to only 26 percent of LGBTQ2+ Gen X and Baby Boomer workers
  • 68 percent of millennial LGBTQ2+ workers surveyed responded that a company having "a gender identity and expression non-discrimination policy" is most important in a workplace
  • Only 18 percent of LGBTQ2+ millennial workers indicated that they have access to an LGBTQ2+ Employee Resource Group at their place of work
  • Of those who have access to LGBTQ2+ resource groups, 57 percent are members
  • When asked what is most important in a workplace, 80 percent of millennial LGBTQ2+ workers said "sexual orientation non-discrimination policy" is very important