On average, a person spends a third of their life working. Many lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer (LGBTQ +) people have to hide their true identities every day and every week for many hours. However, staying in the closet takes effort every day and is harmful to your health in the long run.
In most countries around the world, there are no laws to protect LGBTQ + people from discrimination in the workplace. They risk losing their jobs, without any recourse, simply because they are LGBTQ +.
At the same time, despite the progress of anti-discrimination laws, many people whose sexual orientation or gender identity is known still suffer from discrimination and prejudice.
Work-family balance also affect the LGBTQ + people. Let's not assume that people who are LGBTQ + or who are perceived to be single have no parental responsibilities. In Quebec, as well as in certain other countries, same-sex couples are entitled to parental leave for the birth or adoption of a child.
Hiding your identity, a job in itself!
Silencing your orientation or gender identity is often having to lie on a daily basis. Think about it, how often do you talk about your partner, dating, your weekend or the personalities you find attractive?
Discrimination: illegal but still present
In the workplace, it is no longer possible to refuse to hire a person or to refuse a promotion on grounds that are openly based on sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. This does not, however, prevent LGBTQ + people from being discriminated against in the workplace (just like other groups registered in oppressive systems: women, people of color, etc.). when attributing a position or promotion, it may happen that with equal qualities, an LGBTQ + person (or perceived as such) is ranked second, or even not considered, without further explanation.
Proportion of Canadians who believe that disclosing their homosexual orientation at work can be detrimental to a professional career (2012).
In 2012, 15% of Canadians said they would be reluctant to hire someone they know is gay.
In 2012, 51% of Canadians said they did not know anyone who was gay in their workplace.
The benefits of inclusiveness
In addition to being a good thing in itself, and allowing a better work environment for your LGBT employees, inclusion has many benefits:
Companies that do not provide a welcoming work environment for LGBT people will, in many cases, lose their workforce without knowing the reasons. On the contrary, an open work environment will be an incentive to join a company and generate more loyalty on the part of its employees.
Several studies show that homophobia in the workplace can help reduce productivity and weaken people from sexual and gender minorities and slow down their full capacity to flourish. On the contrary, an inclusive environment leads to greater commitment and better teamwork.
Regardless of the type of workplace discrimination, it costs businesses dearly. By not allowing 10% of LGBTQ + employees to reach their full potential, a non-inclusive business loses productivity and therefore revenue. Psychological harassment, mental illness, and bullying are all harmful effects resulting from discrimination. In addition, discrimination is illegal, and can lead to a lawsuit.