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LGBTQ Workplace Equality

Battling Blindspots in Corporate Culture

Info: Business and the Marketplace

HRC Corporate Equality Index 2017

Transgender Issues: Transitioning in the Workplace

Info: Money and Financial Matters

Pride Not Prejudice: Discrimination in the Workplace

GLAAD: Importance of LGBTQ Equality in the Workplace

 

LGBTQ Workplace Issues

 

Trying to be authentic in the office can be a struggle when you operate in a straight man's world. In the back of my mind I hear a persistent fear: Do I sound too gay? I know this is a question I shouldn’t care about, yet it sits there. The question makes me attempt a very "straight" view of confidence, especially at work.

When I enter a meeting, I deepen my voice. I make long strides to show my confidence. And I will talk about my interests in investments and sports, rather than those in the arts and baking. I was called out on it recently. A client I meet with regularly saw me talking to someone at a networking event. He came over and said it was as if I was a different person. I'm very relaxed around him and I definitely wasn’t at this event. Pointedly, he asked, "Do you think being more masculine correlates with career success?"

 

This confrontation spurred a series of thoughts: What am I hiding? Who am I trying to please? What do I want to achieve by doing this? The truth is that I am hiding myself, pleasing no one, and getting nowhere. I am the first to attest that my personality is nuanced and takes many forms, and I aim, sometimes unsuccessfully, to be undeniably me. By second-guessing myself and the respect of others, I am reducing myself. It's my fault for not trusting others to consider me an equal.

Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said, "Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner." When I adjust my personality to fit into another’s expectation I fall into a trap of my own making. I'm also assuming the worse of them; not trusting them to take me as I am.

I'm far from the only gay or bi man who fights this fight daily, especially in situations where we're outnumbered by straight people, especially men. A 2012 University of California, Los Angeles, study found, "Some gay men are preoccupied with traditional notions of masculinity and express negative feelings towards effeminate behavior in gay men. Various scholars have speculated that such attitudes by gay men reflect internalized negative feelings about being gay."

 



There is no denying that LGBTQ people face discrimination for being themselves, especially at work. We've all seen it, whether it's gay jokes or outright harassment. In kowtowing to this homophobia (and compensating by acting more "masculine") we help cement the idea that there is one way to be a man, and anything else won't be taken seriously.

Gay men in their 20s and 30s have been given the privilege of seeing a generation of LGBTQ people live out and proud. It falls to us to champion greater inclusion for the next generation by living authentically, even if that means everyone knowing you dig guys the second you open your mouth.

 

[Source: Conrad Liveris / Advocate Magazine / May 2016]
 

Same Sex Partner Benefits Growing in Fortune 500 Companies

LGBTQ People Face High Rates of Workplace Discrimination

LGBTQ Employees Still Face Discrimination

Info: Business and the Marketplace

Logo: Top 25 LGBTQ Friendly Companies

Out of Work for Being Out at Work

LGBTQ Workplace Discrimination is Common

ACLU and LGBT Workplace Rights

Info: Legal Issues

 

LGBTQ Friendly Companies

 

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) issues its annual Corporate Equality Index to inform the general public about the level of LGBTQ support they can expect from the Fortune 500 companies. Based on their rating system, here are some of the companies that earned a perfect score:

 

Wal-Mart

Chevron

Starbucks

Apple Computers

General Motors

Macy's

Coca-Cola

Goldman Sachs

American Airlines

CVS Health

Toys R Us

Hershey

AT&T

Verizon Communications

Nestle Purina

Proctor & Gamble

Sony

Wells Fargo

Time Warner

Home Depot

JC Penney

McDonald's

Hasbro

Accenture

Ernst & Young

Nike

Dow Chemical

Deloitte

Marriott

Johnson & Johnson

UPS

Campbell's Soup

Pepsico

Walt Disney

Hyundai

New York Life

General Electric

Morgan Stanley

Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream

American Eagle Outfitters

Toyota

General Mills

Barnes & Noble Bookstore

Anheuser-Busch

Google

Levi Strauss

Mattel

Nationwide

Ford Motor Company

Delta Airlines

IBM

Hewlett Packard

Shell Oil

Boeing

Colgate Palmolive

MetLife

Glaxo Smith Kline

Hallmark Cards

Netflix

United Airlines

 

Employment Non-Discrimination Act

Message From President Barack Obama (November 2013): Congress Needs to Pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

Here in the United States, we're united by a fundamental principle: we're all created equal and every single American deserves to be treated equally in the eyes of the law. We believe that no matter who you are, if you work hard and play by the rules, you deserve the chance to follow your dreams and pursue your happiness. That's America's promise.

That's why, for instance, Americans can't be fired from their jobs just because of the color of their skin or for being Christian or Jewish or a woman or an individual with a disability. That kind of discrimination has no place in our nation. And yet, right now, in 2013, in many states a person can be fired simply for being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. As a result, millions of LGBTQ Americans go to work every day fearing that, without any warning, they could lose their jobs -- not because of anything they've done, but simply because of who they are. It's offensive. It's wrong. And it needs to stop, because in the United States of America, who you are and who you love should never be a fireable offense.
 

Pro Gay Jobs

Out For Work

Out and Equal

Pride at Work

Out Professionals
I Love Gay Work

 

That's why Congress needs to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, also known as ENDA, which would provide strong federal protections against discrimination, making it explicitly illegal to fire someone because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. This bill has strong bipartisan support and the support of a vast majority of Americans. It ought to be the law of the land. Americans ought to be judged by one thing only in their workplaces: their ability to get their jobs done. Does it make a difference if the firefighter who rescues you is gay -- or the accountant who does your taxes, or the mechanic who fixes your car? If someone works hard every day, does everything he or she is asked, is responsible and trustworthy and a good colleague, that's all that should matter.

Business agrees. The majority of Fortune 500 companies and small businesses already have nondiscrimination policies that protect LGBTQ employees. These companies know that it's both the right thing to do and makes good economic sense. They want to attract and retain the best workers, and discrimination makes it harder to do that. So too with our nation. If we want to create more jobs and economic growth and keep our country competitive in the global economy, we need everyone working hard, contributing their ideas, and putting their abilities to use doing what they do best. We need to harness the creativity and talents of every American.

 



So I urge the Senate to vote yes on ENDA and the House of Representatives to do the same. Several Republican Senators have already voiced their support, as have a number of Republicans in the House. If more members of Congress step up, we can put an end to this form of discrimination once and for all. Passing ENDA would build on the progress we've made in recent years. We stood up against hate crimes with the Matthew Shepard Act and lifted the entry ban for travelers with HIV. We ended "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" so our brave servicemen and women can serve openly the country they love, no matter who they love. We prohibited discrimination in housing and hospitals that receive federal funding, and we passed the Violence Against Women Act, which includes protections for LGBTQ Americans. My Administration had stopped defending the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, and earlier this year the U.S. Supreme Court struck down that discriminatory law. Now we're implementing that ruling, giving married couples access to the federal benefits they were long denied. And across the nation, as more and more states recognize marriage equality, we're seeing loving couples -- some who have been together for decades -- finally join their hands in marriage.

America is at a turning point. We're not only becoming more accepting and loving as a people, we're becoming more just as a nation. But we still have a way to go before our laws are equal to our Founding ideals. As I said in my second inaugural address, our nation's journey toward equality isn't complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law, for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well. In America of all places, people should be judged on the merits: on the contributions they make in their workplaces and communities, and on what Martin Luther King Jr. called "the content of their character." That's what ENDA helps us do. When Congress passes it, I will sign it into law, and our nation will be fairer and stronger for generations to come.
 

LGBTQ Workplace Equality

Battling Blindspots in Corporate Culture

Info: Money and Financial Matters

HRC Corporate Equality Index 2017

Transgender Issues: Transitioning in the Workplace

Info: Legal Issues

Pride Not Prejudice: Discrimination in the Workplace

GLAAD: Importance of LGBTQ Equality in the Workplace

 

LGBTQ Non-Discrimination Bill Under Discussion

"It is long past time to eliminate bigotry in the workplace and to ensure equal opportunity for all Americans. It is time to make clear that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans are first class citizens. They are full and welcome members of our American family and they deserve the same civil rights protections as all other Americans. It is time for us to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Such discrimination is wrong and should not be tolerated."
-Senator Tom Harkin

 

The Senate Health and Labor Committee, chaired by Senator Tom Harkin, held a hearing in June 2012 on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (US Senate Bill 811), a bill that would create a federal ban on discrimination against LGBTQ people in the workplace. The measure has been introduced in every congressional session since 1994. Committee Chair Tom Harkin (Democrat) has served as a Senator for Iowa for 36 years. His state is one of only 7 states that allow same-sex marriages. His remarks at the senate hearing in support of workplace equality for LGBTQ workers are worthy of acclaim.

The witness panel included one openly transgender person, Kylar Brodus, founder of the Trans People of Color Coalition, whose personal story is most compelling. Also included on the panel was Ken Charles, Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion at General Mills Inc., whose supportive comments are worth hearing.

The White House angered LGBTQ advocates when it decided against issuing an executive order blocking same-sex discrimination by federal contractors. The Obama administration then came out in favor of ENDA, though there seems unlikely that the employment discrimination bill will pass in this session of Congress.

Witnesses included: M. V. Lee Badgett, Research Director, Williams Institute for Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy, University of California at Los Angeles; Samuel Bagenstos, Professor of Law, University of Michigan Law School, Ann Arbor, Michigan; Ken Charles, vice president of Diversity and Inclusion, General Mills Inc., Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Craig Parshal, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, National Religious Broadcasters Association, Manassas, Virginia.
 

Same Sex Partner Benefits Growing in Fortune 500 Companies

LGBTQ People Face High Rates of Workplace Discrimination

Info: Business and the Marketplace

LGBTQ Employees Still Face Discrimination

Logo: Top 25 LGBTQ Friendly Companies

Out of Work for Being Out at Work

LGBTQ Workplace Discrimination is Common

Info: LGBTQ Discrimination

ACLU and LGBTQ Workplace Rights

Info: Legal Issues

 

Career Advice for LGBTQ College Students

As an LGBTQ student preparing for entry into the workforce, you may find yourself faced with additional career planning challenges related to your sexual orientation or gender identity. For the most part, university life has been a supportive environment, with a wonderful LGBTQ resource center, an active LGBTQ student group, lots of LGBTQ-related activities and events, and university-backed non-discrimination policies. The workplace can be quite different, in terms of the openness of and support for LGBTQ employees.

How Out Do You Want To Be?
 

Coming out is a personal decision. It is up to you to determine how important it is to be out and under what circumstances. For many people, their sexual orientation is such an integral part of their identity that to remain closeted in the workplace would seem false. Others, however, might prefer to maintain separation between their personal and professional lives, only sharing information about their orientation with close friends. Hiding one's identity could lead to feelings of lowered self-esteem and frustration at leading a dual life; being openly gay could lead to discrimination, harassment, or even the loss of one's job. There is no "right" answer.

What has been your level of involvement within LGBTQ activities and the community? Are most of your friends, peers and support networks LGBTQ-connected? If you have a partner, is he or she out in most situations? The strength of your identification and level of past commitment to the LGBTQ community may be a deciding factor in whether or not to come out in the workplace and how visible to be. Your attitudes about this are likely to change throughout your lifetime. Each time you change jobs, in fact, you will likely re-evaluate your feelings about being out.

Many people believe that the only way to gain widespread acceptance is to be out and visible, whereas others prefer to express their political beliefs in a less direct, more personal manner. The bottom line is that for now you must decide what is best for you.

 

Researching Organization Policies and Climates

 

The industry to which you are applying for jobs might be more or less accepting of LGBTQ employees than others, although you should not generalize prior to researching a specific organization. Prior to the interview, you should try to research an organization's official policies and resources. Use printed and on-line resources (HRC, PFLAG, GLAAD) to look up organizations' LGBTQ employee groups, non-discrimination policies, and domestic partnership benefits. Contact the employee group and talk to current staff about the organizational climate, which goes beyond the formal policies. What is it really like to work there?

If your job search takes you to unfamiliar geographic regions, try to find out if the future work site is located in a state, county, city or community that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity (which sets a general tone of acceptance, or at least tolerance). There might be regional or municipal workplace groups for LGBTQ individuals, even if there may not be one for a particular organization; these types of associations are invaluable for networking. In the absence of employee groups, contact bookstores, gay-owned businesses, and the like, to learn more about the region you are targeting. Take advantage of the LGBTQ networks that are widely accessible through Gay Yellow Pages, online, and so forth. You may also try to identify LGBTQ alumni who are willing to provide advice and information to current students.

 

How Much Should You Include on Your Resume?

 

Should LGBTQ-related activities be included on the resume? Consider your audience and determine ahead of time how out you want to be. If you are applying for a "gay" job (Lobbyist for NGLTF, Researcher for HRC), then the LGBTQ experiences can be an obvious advantage. But what about other types of jobs? The skills you developed as a result of participation in LGBTQ organizations are likely to be of interest to many employers, although the organizations in which you participated may be viewed with less enthusiasm by some. To help evaluate the policies and climates of various organizations and industries, conduct a bit of research prior to writing your resume.

As with any potentially controversial group affiliation, such as political or religious activities, you will want to weigh the pros and cons of including such information. One strategy is to simply omit any reference to LGBTQ organizations or activities. Some recruiters, even gay ones, have said that such information can be extraneous, especially if social activities are summarized rather than skills and achievements. If you do choose to include LGBTQ-related information on your resume, be certain to put the emphasis on accomplishments that are relevant to employers. Highlight leadership, budgeting, event planning, public speaking and organizational skills. While highlighting skills, you might "downplay" the nature of the organization in which you developed those skills. One option is to use an acronym rather than spelling it out, but be prepared during an interview to explain what the acronym stands for. Another approach is to list the organization as an "Anti-Discrimination Organization" or “Diversity Group,” and then document your accomplishments from this experience.

 



Another strategy is the use of a "functional" resume, one that groups accomplishments in student organizations together according to functions/skills rather than by organization name. An example of this would be to list things you do well such as money management, fundraising, and bookkeeping under a heading of "Business Skills." This provides a way to highlight leadership, planning, teamwork, and other skills, while de-emphasizing where you developed them. Regardless of which strategy you utilize on the resume, you will still need to be prepared for questions during an interview.

How Much Should You reveal in Your Interview?

 

As with writing a resume, you should think ahead of time about how out you are ultimately willing to be during the interview process. Preparing for interviews is critical. If you have not yet researched the firm, you should do so before walking into the interview. Once you have information about an organization's policies and climate, you have additional information to help make the decision about whether or not to come out during the interview. Because an interview is a process of evaluating you, and because you rarely know the attitudes of an interviewer ahead of time, you do run the risk of encountering someone whom might evaluate you negatively (consciously or unconsciously), regardless of company policies.

Depending on the strategies you have used to present LGBTQ-related activities on your resume, you might have already given the interviewer some indications that you are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or queer. If that is the case, you should be prepared to talk about how your experiences have developed desirable leadership, communication, and interpersonal skills. You do not want to be caught off guard, appearing unprepared or even embarrassed about your background. An interviewer might ask, "I see you were president of the Allies Student Group for two years. Can you tell me what kind of organization it is?" If you have decided to be out, you can respond with a simple description. If you have chosen not to come out yet, you may want to refer to it as an anti- discrimination organization and then focus on the achievements as a result of your work.

 



If you have excluded "gay-related" experiences from your resume, then you might not even mention them during the interview; your focus could be mainly on those experiences already highlighted. Many people decide to wait to come out until after receiving a job offer, when candidates have more leverage, or until after starting a new job, where people can come out to coworkers on their own terms.


You could "test the waters" with an interviewer by asking about the organization's diversity initiatives. Does the recruiter's reply include mention of issues pertaining to sexual orientation? To be more direct, you might ask, "Can you tell me more about diversity in the workplace and related policies, as they might deal with race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and the like?" These should not be your first questions during an interview. Focus on the job and your capabilities first. Make the company want to hire you. After you have convinced them you are the right one for the job, then make inquiries about policies regarding LGBTQ issues.

Coming Out on the Job

 

Coming out to a potential supervisor and coworkers might seem even more intimidating than coming out during the interview process; after all, you will have to spend a majority of you time with your coworkers. Look for clues around the office. Do you see any same-gender pictures or information on employee bulletin boards that might hint at the office culture? Is the work group diverse in other ways? Will you be working with lots of other twenty-something employees? In general, "younger" organizations tend to be more comfortable with diversity. In addition, even though it is hard to generalize, certain industries (many software companies) and certain geographic locations (San Francisco, Seattle) are known for being gay-friendly.

In general, it may be best at first to focus on the job, learning more about expectations for your performance, and establishing yourself as a professional. Many people believe that when you are coming out to anyone, in any situation, you should just use your best judgment and comfort level. You might prefer people get to know you first, with the coming out process evolving more from day to day interactions and discussions. The question, "So, what did you do this weekend?" might become easier to answer once you have already established some friendships.

Although some coworkers may choose to avoid your company in more social situations, the majority will simply accept you for the value of your work and your contributions. Again, the bottom line is that you must decide what will be most comfortable to you.

 

 

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