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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, April 26, 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 17
Equal treatment is good for employers/employees
Section One
ALL STORIES
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Equal treatment is good for employers/employees

How employers benefit from creating LGBT-friendly workplaces

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

A new study released by the Center for Talent Innovation (CTI), a New York-based think tank, reveals important new data on how employers can benefit from creating a workplace hospitable to their LGBT employees.

The report, titled The Power of Out 2.0 is based on a survey of 983 U.S. employees who identify themselves as LGBT.

Surveys were also conducted in India, Japan, and the United Kingdom.

The Power of Out 2.0 builds on the influential study The Power of Out, which was released in the summer of 2011.

BIAS STILL 'PERVASIVE'
'After our 2011 work, we felt there was still much to explore with respect to how employers can make full use of their LGBT talent - specifically, the opportunity companies have to drive business and the bottom line by leveraging the leadership potential and connections of their LGBT employees and allies,' said study co-author Sylvia Ann Hewlett, founding president and CEO of CTI. 'Our new study finds that while progress has been made, discrimination remains pervasive. We outline a number of steps employers can take to improve the climate in the workplace and enable their LGBT employees to maximize their potential.'

LGBT employees and the broader LGBT community are often perceived as a homogenous group, notes co-author Todd Sears, principal of Coda Leadership and founder of Out on the Street: 'This research provides critical detail.' He said. 'As companies continue to raise the bar in protecting and supporting their LGBT employees, we believe this data provides updated guidance on effective approaches and best practices. In addition, the research helps inform companies' efforts as they reach out to the LGBT market as a whole.'

Among the new study's findings is an increase in the number of LGBTs out at work - 59% in 2012, compared to 52% in 2011. Also, being open about their sexual orientation or gender identity gives LGBT professionals access to business opportunities through which they can exercise their leadership.

GENDER GAP ENDURES
The study also found that a significant gender gap persists between LGB male and female employees with respect to how their LGB status benefits them in the workplace. Men are nearly twice as likely to consider their LGB identity an asset in the workplace.

In addition, the study found that the creation of a workplace where LGBT talent can thrive is due in large part to allies. Twenty-four percent of LGBT workers credit their decision to come out professionally to allies in their workplace. While many straight employees define themselves as allies of their LGBT co-workers, only a small percentage - 12% of men and 23% of women - qualify as an 'active ally' (someone who has performed two or more LGBT-supporting actions, such as aiding a co-worker in his or her coming out or speaking up at work in his or her defense).

According to the study, LGBT women are more likely to face discrimination because of the 'double jeopardy' of gender and sexual orientation or gender identity - 74% of Lesbians say they encounter bias compared to 51% of Gay men.

CLOSET STILL HAS APPEAL
Discrimination continues to pressure LGBT individuals to resort to 'passing' as heterosexual. Twenty-three percent of men and 15% of women believe that changing their mannerisms, voice, or clothing, or hiding relationships or friendships, in order to 'pass' at work has helped their career.

Lastly, the study reports that bias and discrimination are an issue within the LGB community. Gay and Bisexual men are 114% more likely than women to report discrimination. Also, Bisexual men and women are 59% less likely than Lesbians and Gay men to feel a part of the LGBT community.

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