Almost Half of LGBTQ Employees Feel Coming Out Would Hinder Career

In a new survey from Glassdoor on LGBTQ people in the workplace, nearly half of LGBTQ employees said they believe coming out to their colleagues could hurt their career.

The survey, published on Thursday (May 30), looked at 6,104 adults, 515 of whom were LGBTQ and employed.

47 percent of LGBTQ respondents reported that if they came out at work, they believed it could have serious consequences like losing their job, not getting a promotion, or not being selected for a project. The fear of the negative consequences could be the reason why 43 percent of LGBTQ employees said they weren’t completely out at work.

“Still today, 26 states do not protect LGBTQ employees at work and many of these employees believe coming out could hurt their career,” said Jesus Suarez, Glassdoor’s LGBTQ and Ally Employee Group Leader. “This is a wake-up call to employers and lawmakers. Many employers have an opportunity to build or strengthen the foundation for an inclusive culture that encourages employees to bring their gull selves to work.”

Almost half of LGBTQ employees could feel uncomfortable coming out because of fear of verbal harassment from co-workers, as well. 53 percent of LGBTQ employees reported experiencing or witnessing anti-LGBTQ comments made by co-workers – compared to only 30 percent of non-LGBTQ employees.

“It’s disheartening to see that a majority of LGBTQ employees have faced or witnessed some form of verbal discrimination at work,” Suarez said. “Any employer that chooses to ignore implementing supportive working environments and policies risk missing out on hiring quality talent.”

The numbers reflect Suarez’s sentiment; almost 3 out of 4 LGBTQ employees wouldn’t apply to work somewhere that doesn’t support or protect its LGBTQ employees. Suarez also mentioned that “a strong majority of LGBTQ employees” are looking for more support from their employees; 68 percent reported feeling like their employer could do more to support their LGBTQ employees.

Suarez suggested that companies create an inclusive culture in order to retain LGBTQ employees and emphasized the importance of LGBTQ people feeling comfortable in their place of work.

“[T]here are many ways to offer support that go beyond benefits and policies,” he said. “Doing company research is a great way to evaluate if you’ll find support in a potential employer. It’s important to find a job and a company you love, including a company that encourages you to be your authentic self at work.”

If you’re having trouble feeling comfortable coming out to your colleagues, the report includes a guide to “embracing your authentic self” in the workplace. Also included is a guide for employers to create an inclusive culture and empower their LGBTQ employees.