A shocking 41% of 18-25 year old LGBT+ employees felt compelled to hide their sexuality in their first job, despite being out in their personal life.
That’s according to research released this week designed to measure issues relating to LGBT+ people moving from education to work. The research was commissioned by Vodafone and carried out by research firm Out Now.
The study took place across 15 countries, including Ireland and the U.K. A massive 78% in Ireland said they have hidden their sexual orientation or gender identity at work at least once.
Bisexual respondents reported some of the poorest outcomes on a number of the metrics tested
Here are some of the key findings:
- 41% of 18-25 years old LGBT+ employees selected “I went back into the closet when I started my first job, despite being out in my personal life or at school/college/university.”
- LGBT+ women can experience more challenging environments. For example, only 29% of LGBT+ women aged 18 – 35 years old feel able to be ‘out to all’ at work, whereas the corresponding figure for male respondents aged 18 – 35 is 44%.
- 24% of bisexual people felt unable to come out at all
- 76% of all respondents have hidden their sexual orientation or gender identity at work.
Aside from fear of discrimination, and concern for career prospects, the top three reasons given were:
- 62% – It would be too awkward to discuss
- 60% – I felt people would react negatively
- 59% – Other people would find it uncomfortable
Other reasons included not knowing any other people who were openly LGBT+ at work when they started a new job, highlighting the importance of companies offering practical support to employees.
Companies Need To Make Visible Change to Encourage LGBT+ Inclusion
According to Ian Johnson, CEO of Out Now, “Respondents are most influenced by visible actions, such as seeing their own managers actively championing LGBT+ inclusion – as well as policies and programmes being implemented to prove through actions the organisation takes LGBT+ inclusion seriously.”
Other visible steps judged to be effective include having openly LGBT+ senior managers, talking about LGBT+ inclusion during employee recruitment and interview stages, and inclusive marketing and advertising campaigns.
Demonstrate to all employees that LGBT+ inclusion is not just a policy – it is a visible part of daily working life
Bisexual people made up 12% of all respondents in the study and they report some of the poorest outcomes on a number of the metrics tested. Bisexual respondents are least likely to be “out” with managers and colleagues in their first and subsequent jobs.
There’s a strong business case for companies to create workplaces where employees feel comfortable being themselves – not least of which is to attract and retain top talent and increase productivity.
But Out Now are encouraging employers not just to review their policies, but go further – “Policies that sit on the shelf do not impact day-to-day workplace culture. Take proactive steps to visibly demonstrate to all employees that LGBT+ inclusion is not just a policy – it is a visible part of daily working life. Not just during Pride month – but 24/7/365.”
For the full report go to www.outnowconsulting.com