By Meera Jagannathan
Some 45% of of lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) professionals in the U.S. say their employer discriminates against people of their sexual orientation, with people of color more likely to experience this discrimination to a greater degree, according to a new report published during LGBTQ Pride Month.
Nearly half of white LGB workers report having personally experienced discrimination to some extent because of their sexual orientation, said the report conducted by the IBM /zigman2/quotes/203856914/composite IBM -0.69% Institute for Business Value (IBV).
And while 4% of white LGB workers say they’ve experienced such discrimination to “a very great extent,” their counterparts of color are far more likely to report this, including 19% of Black LGB workers, 20% of Hispanic LGB workers, 24% of Native American LGB workers, and 17% of pan-Asian LGB workers.
Across racial identity groups, LGB professionals cite their sexual orientation as the primary driver of workplace discrimination they’ve experienced — outstripping other dimensions of their identity such as gender, race and ethnicity, and religion, even among professionals of color.
Black LGB individuals were more likely than people of other races and ethnicities to report experiencing racial discrimination at work, and also to “experience the most intense discrimination based on their sexual orientation,” the report said.
The survey, conducted in collaboration with Oxford Economics between August and January, included responses from more than 6,000 U.S.-based professionals ranging from junior managers to senior executives, among them 700 gay, lesbian or bisexual people. No respondents self-identified as nonbinary.
To better understand LGBTQ people’s experiences, the IBV also collected qualitative data from a “virtual conversation” with 2,000 LGBT people and allies, hosted alongside the organizations Out & Equal and Workplace Pride.
Nearly two-thirds of LGB workers in the quantitative survey, meanwhile, believed people who share their sexual orientation were less successful than the overall U.S. population. Half of LGB workers believed people who shared their race, gender and sexual orientation were less successful than the broader population.
This belief was borne out in the report’s corporate-leadership findings, the authors said, as just 7% of senior executives surveyed self-identified as gay, lesbian or bisexual.
Disparities on that question also emerged at the intersection of race, gender and sexual orientation: For example, three-quarters of Black LGB women thought people who shared their characteristics were less successful, versus 4% of white non-LGB men who thought the same.
Reasons for not being open about their sexual orientation or gender identity included the possibilities of being stereotyped, making people feel uncomfortable, losing connections with coworkers, and coworkers thinking the person would be attracted to them just because they’re LGBTQ.
“What we’re seeing is an authenticity gap,” Deena Fidas, the chief program and partnerships officer for Out & Equal, said in a statement about the IBV report. “Too many LGBT+ people can’t show up as their authentic selves at work without facing negative consequences.”
Steps that companies can take to create a more inclusive environment include filling the pipeline and getting more LGBTQ people in visible leadership positions; providing equitable benefits with respect to healthcare, family and retirement; and offering guidance on using inclusive language, like gender-neutral pronouns.
The HRC proclaimed last month that 2021 has been the “worst year in recent history” for state-level legislative attacks on LGBTQ rights, with at least 17 anti-LGBTQ bills being enacted into law.
Lawmakers have introduced more than 250 anti-LGBTQ bills in state legislatures this year, the organization said, including legislation aimed at preventing transgender youth from accessing gender-affirming medical care, barring transgender youth from taking part in sports according to their gender identity, and allowing individuals to use a religious justification for refusing services to people.
Advocates are pushing for the Equality Act , which would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in education, employment, public accommodations and facilities, housing, credit and other areas.
The Democrat-led House passed the bill in February mostly along party lines, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, said last month he would have the Senate consider the bill in June.