The Center for Work-Life Policy just issued a results from a survey of 2,952 LGBT employees that illustrates the ways that employers lose when they don’t create LGBT-friendly work environments. The results deliver some good news for people looking to make their workplaces more LGBT-friendly. Let’s take a look.
On average, 48 percent of LGBTs have college degrees (over the 40 percent of straights who do), 71 percent describe ourselves as “ambitious” and 88 percent say they “go the extra mile” for their bosses. In short, LGBTs tend to be smarter, hungrier, and work harder than the average employee.
The 48 of us who are still closeted at work tend to stagnate and feel dissatisfied about our prospects for advancement—73 percent of LGBT employees who feel closeted and isolated at work tend to quit after three years; something that costs companies lots in terms of the time and money required to re-staff and train someone else to take their place.
But the 52 percent who are out at work tend to flourish and trust their bosses more. We also know from an older study that being out helps LGBTs and their colleagues work better together.
The study also concludes that the “LGBT community’s collective buying power at more than $700 billion in the U.S. alone,” which is a fat hunk of change that we’d likely spend on business that support LGBT equality at work and in the greater community.
But the best part of the study is its suggestion for how gays and straights can help make workplaces more welcoming to everyone:
“…there is still a tremendous gap between implementation of LGBT-friendly policies and the ability and decision of employees to come out at work… to move forward, it is going to take gay leaders sharing their coming out stories and straight leaders going beyond statements of support to action, to put real faces to the discussion. Only then will companies truly get the best out of their LGBT employees and win the support of the LGBT community and marketplace.”
Let’s take a second to consider what this could mean in terms of LGBT consumer responce to LGBT-friendly businesses…
A 2007 study (graph above) showed that most gays invest either in long-term family care; experiencing diversity through travel and fighting inequality; keeping up with LGBT news and electronic media; or on self-pampering and partying.
Smart companies could reap benefits from both employers and consumers by tooting their horns about offering LGBT family benefits, having non-discrimination policies and events that demonstrate a global respect for diversity, staying on top of changing trends in queer media (especially utilizing social networking apps and news feeds on smartphones), and by appealing to a LGBT people’s sense of fun and desire for equality.
While LGBT-friendly advertising can easily come off as lip service, it can also pay off. A 2009 study of gay purchasing habits found that 54 percent of all homos respond well to gay-inclusive advertising, 60 percent appreciate companies that support LGBT causes, and gays tend to base at least 30 percent of their purchasing decisions based on their perception of a company’s LGBT community support. A 2008 study suggests those numbers might even be significantly higher.
Though some companies resist change in hopes of keeping sexual identity issues out of the workplace, many most likely have LGBT employees and customers whether they know it or not. Sure, welcoming and marketing to the LGBT community requires time and cash up investment up front, but the eventual benefits could well make such reforms pretty lucrative.
Image via USACE