Deloitte surveyed LGBT+ employees around the world in 2022 to learn about their daily experience and find out where organizational inclusion efforts are succeeding or falling short. The resulting report offers key data-based insights, suggesting employers have made important strides but need to further strengthen workplace cultures to allow LGBT+ workers to thrive. The survey represented 12 countries and all major industries. Respondents identified as gay, bisexual and lesbian; a small percentage identified as transgender or nonbinary.
- Most employers have taken action on LGBT+ inclusion – and are seeing results.
- LGBT+ workers believe allyship, employee resource groups and visible displays of support are crucial elements of inclusion.
- Despite progress, LGBT+ employees still experience exclusionary behavior in the workplace.
- Most LGBT+ employees still choose to keep their sexual orientation or gender identity private at work.
- Employers should focus on building a culture in which LGBT+ employees can thrive.
Most employers have taken action on LGBT+ inclusion – and are seeing results.
A global, cross-industry survey of 600 LGBT+ employees showed the majority of employers have prioritized inclusion, taking actions such as communicating positively about LGBT+ workers, supporting allyship programs and incorporating inclusion into recruitment campaigns. Around four-out-of-five respondents said their employers have taken action on LGBT+ inclusion, and 95% said this action has translated into meaningful levels of support.
“LGBT+ employees may only feel comfortable to be out in the workplace beyond their closest colleagues where there is no fear of judgment or career penalty – where the culture is truly inclusive and founded upon respect.”
Employers’ support for LGBT+ employees has increased workers’ sense of belonging and contributed to higher retention rates. Seventy percent of respondents said they feel positive about remaining with their employer as a result of its LGBT+ inclusion efforts. Among respondents in global organizations, 93% said their employers’ inclusion actions are having a positive effect on the level of support they perceive in their home countries.
LGBT+ workers believe allyship, employee resource groups and visible displays of support are crucial elements of inclusion.
LGBT+ employees consider allyship a primary enabler that makes them feel comfortable at work. Allies play a role in increasing inclusion in the workplace and provide support for LGBT+ networks, such as employee resource groups (ERGs). Where ERGs exist in workplaces, over 90% of respondents say they feel more comfortable as a result.
“Allyship is fundamental to helping LGBT+ employees feel able to be out at work.”
Respondents reported the use of preferred pronouns in email signatures and other visible expressions of support – for example, taking part in Pride events – increase inclusion.
Despite progress, LGBT+ employees still experience exclusionary behavior in the workplace.
More than four-in-ten respondents said they continue to experience noninclusive behavior in the workplace, and it occurs both in the physical office and in virtual environments. They cited inappropriate comments, jokes and “banter,” unwanted touching and social exclusion. An experience with noninclusive behavior nearly cuts in half LGBT+ employees’ intention to stay in their current role.
“There is more to be done in reinforcing the understanding that reporting noninclusive behavior is worthwhile and will not lead to retaliatory behavior nor directly impact an employee’s relationship with other colleagues.”
Among respondents who experienced noninclusive behavior, 72% reported the experience to their employer, and most said they received satisfactory responses. Those who didn’t report the behavior said they chose not to do so because they feared not being taken seriously or worried the behavior might increase if they formally reported it; some felt the behavior didn’t merit a formal complaint.
Most LGBT+ employees still choose to keep their sexual orientation or gender identity private at work.
Almost 20% of LGBT+ workers have not come out to anyone at work about their sexual orientation or gender identity, and fewer than half have come out to the majority of their co-workers. Those who are out only to their closest colleagues say they simply prefer to maintain privacy beyond that, or they don’t feel comfortable coming out to the majority of their colleagues. Some – about one in five – fear that being out to all their colleagues will be detrimental to their career.
Employers should focus on building a culture in which LGBT+ employees can thrive.
Organizations need to take further action in three areas to promote LGBT+ inclusion in their workplaces:
- Help employees feel comfortable coming out at work by dispelling their fears and providing clear messages of support.
- Demonstrate zero tolerance for noninclusive behavior. Make reporting mechanisms available, and ensure people won’t suffer repercussions if they use them.
- Continue to embrace allyship: Respondents unequivocally considered it a powerful component of workplace inclusion.
About the Author
Deloitte is a leading global provider of audit and assurance, consulting, financial advisory, risk advisory, tax and related services.