LGBTQ+ employees face a plethora of challenges, and we often overlook their experiences. However, for LGBT History Month, we’ve collected insight from LGBTQ+ members to try and create a more comprehensive understanding of their reality within the workplace.
This article will explore both good and bad experiences submitted by members of the LGBTQ+ community. Please be aware that we discuss hate crime and discrimination within this text.
The Negative LGBTQ+ Employee Experience:
Appallingly, 2 in 3 LGBTQ+ people experienced anti-LGBT+ violence or abuse in 2021. Likewise, nearly one in five LGBTQ+ people looking for work said they faced discrimination because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Statistics like this may or may not come as a surprise to you. However, in our survey, an overwhelming majority of respondents stated some form of negative experience as an LGBTQ+ employee. Here are some of those accounts:
Unnecessary Commentary and Gossip:
A number of those who took part in the survey said they have experienced negative comments in the workplace. According to Stonewall, one in five LGBT staff have been the target of negative comments or conduct from work colleagues. To highlight, one survey respondent wrote, “Lewd comments about being bisexual have peppered my career.”.
Another said that they hear homophobic slurs casually used in the workplace daily. As a new staff member, they aren’t comfortable reporting this behaviour. Some individuals were the topic of unwarranted discussion. Explaining that information they gave was then became workplace gossip rather than for genuine interest. Following this, one in eight lesbian, gay and bi people wouldn’t feel confident reporting any homophobic or biphobic bullying to their employer.
Stigma Surrounding LGBTQ+ Employees:
LGBTQ+ employees face an abundance of obstacles throughout their life and have to navigate stigmas surrounding their existence. For example, acting and looking ‘gay’ and even heightened promiscuity. But these social mechanisms only work to harm the LGBTQ+ community, in and out of the workplace.
In our survey, one individual detailed their experience with stigma, explaining, “There is still a lot of stigma attached to understanding sexuality as a spectrum”. They go on to say, “I am a feminine presenting female and often my sexuality is questioned because of the stereotype of what a lesbian should look like.”
Tokenism and Racism:
Tokenism within the community is rife, with many feeling out of place or hired to tick boxes. For example, one reply to our survey said, “I did feel like there was an emphasis on tokenism. I also didn’t feel like I fitted in with the office clique, which consisted primarily of white straight people. This was actually one of the reasons I decided to freelance”.
In 2018, 12% of black, Asian and minority ethnic LGBTQ+ employees had lost their job because of being LGBT, compared to 4% of white LGBTQ+ staff. A statistic that simply isn’t acceptable.
The Positive LGBTQ+ Employee Experience:
It’s not all doom and gloom. Some LGBTQ+ employees have had a positive experience within the workplace and enjoy their day to day roles.
Our survey found that some people don’t feel discriminated against for being queer. They follow on to say, “The best experiences I find are from people that don’t care about your sexuality […] but also cares about your insights and experiences.”. Highlighting the emphasis on treating everyone as equal.
A few respondents praised the community within creative workplaces or roles and found a “general acceptance”. One individual states that they had only experienced prejudice in a non-creative workplace environment. Subsequently, 35% of LGBTQ+ people have hidden their identity at work. Perhaps the creative community has a lower statistic due to its general nature.
Respecting LGBTQ+ Employees:
What’s more, one reply said their workplace held monthly meetings for different communities. Such as non-binary, trans, neurodivergent and menopause. In their customer-facing roles, they provide staff with pronoun badges. Marginalised communities must become more visible and considered for the wellbeing of many individuals.
The Inbetween LGBTQ+ Employee Experience:
Not all responses were overwhelmingly positive or negative. Many were on the fence about their experience, with most responses explaining an overall acceptance and improvement. However, they still face unnecessary prejudice. For example, an individual described never having any issues but constantly feeling “on edge” around queer topics at work. Relating back to the one in eight LGBTQ+ people not feeling confident with reporting homophobic bullying.
In summary, the experience of LGBTQ+ people is not what it should be. Although there are many positive encounters, traumatic and unacceptable experiences overshadow this. Moreover, an already marginalised group is facing increased hate crime and discrimination. Therefore, those who aren’t already must try harder to educate themselves and work towards a more equal experience for LGBTQ+ people.
Here at Each Person, we try to do just that with unbiased and accessible rewards and recognition. But also, through education and support with our Wellbeing Hub! You may even want to read our blog on how to be LGBTQ+ friendly in the workplace.
A special thanks to all those who submitted responses to our survey.