Only around 3 in 10 employees feel comfortable expressing themselves with HR
Employees who identify as members of the LGBT+ community want to be out at work, but many don't feel comfortable enough to do it, according to a new report. Deloitte's global survey among over 5,000 respondents revealed that it is important to be able to freely express their sexual orientation (60%) and gender identity (75%) at work.
Sexual orientation refers to the emotional, romantic, or sexual attraction to other people, while gender identity refers to a person's "innermost concept of self as male, female, a blend of both or neither," according to the Human Rights Commission.
"While a large majority of respondents attach a high level of importance to being able to freely express their sexual orientation or gender identity in the workplace, less than half of respondents feel comfortable being out about their sexual orientation (43%) or gender identity (47%) with everyone at work," the Deloitte Global 2023 LGBT+ Inclusion @ Work report said.
The report found that the level of comfort at coming out increases with seniority, with those in the leadership most comfortable in expressing their sexual orientation (51%) and gender identity (54%).
For junior employees, only 37% feel comfortable sharing their sexual orientation, and only 46% feel comfortable being out with their gender identity.
Coming out to managers, HR
Meanwhile, several respondents also don't feel comfortable coming out to their direct managers, even more with HR.
According to the report, less than four in 10 employees feel comfortable sharing their sexual orientation with their direct manager (37%) and HR (34%). In terms of gender identity, only 37% are comfortable of being out with their direct manager, and 31% are comfortable with HR.
Reasons why they don't feel comfortable being out about sexual orientation include:
- I would be worried I would be treated differently (39%)
- I prefer not to talk about any aspect of my private life at work (37%)
- I worry I would face discrimination or harassment (32%)
For those not comfortable being out about their gender identity, they cited:
- I worry I would be treated differently (46%)
- I worry I would face discrimination or harassment (41%)
- I worry I will not be treated with respect (38%)
Impact on retention, recruitment
When employees don't feel their organisations are being inclusive enough, employers can expect an impact on retention.
"One in three of all respondents are actively looking to change employers to find an organization that is more LGBT+ inclusive," the report said.
Among these respondents, 19% said they are leaving because their employer's actions on LGBT+ inclusion "have not been enough to have a positive impact" on them. For another 15%, they said it's because their employer doesn't focus on LGBT+ inclusion at all.
This case is even prevalent when looking at ethnic minorities, as 52% of them said they plan to change employers for an organisation that is more LGBT+ inclusive.
Employers who are inclusive to the community could then get a bit more edge in their search for talent, as 69% of the respondents placed importance on an organisation's diversity when deciding to apply for a new role. Other factors they consider include:
- Opportunity to take part in workplace D&I initiatives (64%)
- Company's internal commitment to LGBT+ inclusion (63%)
- Company's external commitment to LGBT+ inclusion (56%)
- Leaders who are LGBT+ and out (53%)
What can employers do?
To reduce the barriers and ensure that employers don't fall short on employees' expectations, Deloitte is encouraging organisations to "clearly demonstrate a commitment to LGBT+ inclusion."
"When it comes to internal actions, employers should remember that employees value the opportunity to get involved and expect to see an impact," the report said.
"From an external commitment perspective, this should not be viewed in isolation to internal actions; indeed, signing up to the UN standards, for example, not only shows a formal and serious commitment to LGBT+ inclusion but also provides a framework through which companies can actively demonstrate a commitment to LGBT+ inclusion both within their organization and outside it."
Employers should also address the barriers faced by employees who don't feel comfortable being out in the workplace.
"This means messaging from the top emphasizing the importance of LGBT+ inclusion to the organization," the report said.
Managers and leaders should also understand how to have a conversation about LGBT+ inclusion, according to the report.
"Importantly, it also means requiring leaders to create and maintain a respectful and inclusive working environment in which barriers to being out are addressed and removed."