A third of LGBTQ staff feel their identity has negatively impacted career

This is a diverse group of colleagues gathered around a table.

New research has turned the spotlight on the ongoing discrimination and lack of career progression that many LGBTQ+ people still encounter at work.

Published by talent company Randstad, the latest Workmonitor Pulse survey shares insights on the LGBTQ+ experience in the workplace, and reveals the views of more than 2,000 queer employees worldwide.

Despite significant progress in fostering more inclusive workplaces through diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives over recent decades, the survey shows that 41 per cent of LGBTQ+ workers have faced discrimination or prejudice at work, while one-third (33 per cent) believe that their sexuality or gender identity has negatively affected their career, pay packet or progression.

Things were so bad for 29 per cent of queer employees that they quit their jobs.

Lack of inclusion leads to losing key talent

The research highlights that this lack of inclusion and acceptance at work is harming LGBTQ+ employees’ overall career potential.

More than a third said that they have been less motivated or productive because they cannot be themselves at work, and the same proportion chose to work remotely because the office doesn’t feel like an inclusive space.

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Change is generational

Despite the figures suggesting that discrimination at work is still a reality for many, improvements have been made over the past five years.

Compared with 2019, 41 per cent of LGBTQ+ workers say they face less discrimination now, and 51 per cent of respondents think their employer has taken meaningful action to create an equitable workplace.

Staff expectations have also increased in recent years, raising the bar for inclusion at work. Fifty-eight per cent of workers believe the responsibility for fostering an inclusive environment lies with their employer and 48 per cent said they value allyship and support from their employer more now than before.

Gen Z is leading the way in calls for change, with those born between 1981 and 1996 more concerned about the impact of discrimination on their career progression (45 per cent) than Baby Boomers, those aged between 50 and their mid-70s (29 per cent).

This is an image of 3 Gen employees gathered in a communal area of their office. They are all vibrantly dressed and happily engaging with each other.
The report highlights that Gen Z is leading the demand for change at work. (Getty Images/PinkNews)

Legitimate, not tokenistic change

While the report found that 57 per cent of queer workers believe companies should take a permanent stance on LGBTQ+ issues internally and make lasting changes, those actions must be ongoing, consistent and genuine.

Staff members are very aware of tokenism, and businesses should be cautious of appearing inauthentic in their actions. 41 per cent of employees say their workplaces actively participates in Pride month, but close to the same number (39 per cent) feel those efforts are purely for show.

To combat tokenistic gestures, Randstad suggests firms empower employee resource groups, instil a culture of mutual respect and empathy, and acknowledge that authentic allyship extends beyond June.

Commenting on the report, Randstad’s chief executive, Sander van’t Noordende, said: “As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I’ve seen throughout my career the positive strides companies have taken to create more inclusive and equitable workplaces, but the journey is not over.

“A concerning proportion of LGBTQI+ workers are still facing discrimination and experience consequences on their career progression due to just being themselves.

“[Business leaders] need to take actions that lead to meaningful change and increase the feeling of belonging in the workplace. Workers consistently tell us that the ability to be themselves at work means they feel more productive, motivated and can reach their full potential.

“In a talent-scarce world of work, companies need to attract and retain their best talent more than ever. It’s not just the right thing to do, it also makes good business sense.”

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