STUDY: More LGBTs Out At Work, Lesbians Face More Workplace Discrimination

office workerA new study released by The Center for Talent Innovation (CTI), reveals some good and bad news for gays in the workplace.

Based on a survey of 983 U.S. employees who identify as LGBT, The Power of Out 2.0 is a followup to an earlier survey conducted in 2011, and suggests there are significant differences in how gay men and lesbians feel about being out at work.

Among the study’s findings:

*       There is an increase in the number of LGBTs out at work—59% in 2012, compared to 52% in 2011.

*        A significant gender gap persists between gay men and women with respect to how their sexuality benefits them: Gay men are nearly twice as likely to consider their sexuality an asset in the workplace.

*        Nearly a quarter 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 coworkers, only a small percentage—12% of men and 23% of women — qualify as an “active ally,” i.e., someone who has performed two or more LGBT-supporting actions, such as aiding a coworker in his or her coming out or speaking up to coworkers in defense of LGBTs.

*        Lesbians are more likely to face discrimination because of the “double jeopardy” of gender and sexual orientation or gender identity – 74% say they encounter bias compared to 51% of gay men.

*        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.

*       Bias and discrimination are an issue within the gay community.  Gay and bisexual men are 114% more likely than women to report anti-gay discrimination.  Bisexual men and women are 59% less likely than lesbians and gay men to feel a part of the community.

“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,” says CTI president Sylvia Ann Hewlett. “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.”