In the United States, an estimated 4.5% of the population—11 million people—identify as LGBT. With a large majority of this population—88%—in the workforce, more employers have pushed for LGBT centric initiatives.
Nevertheless, there is a ways to go to create workplace equality for LGBT employees.
A major obstacle LGBT workers face is a lack of legislative protection. In the United States, federal legislation does not explicitly prohibit discrimination based on gender or sexual identity. While some states, such as California, have state laws explicitly prohibiting discrimination, 28 states have no protections for LGBT workers.
With Generation Z entering the workplace, the definition of what makes a diverse work environment is changing to include gender and sexuality. It is important for employers to gain a better understanding of the LGBT demographic in their organizations.
To gain a better understanding of this demographic, consider the LGBT discrimination in the workplace statistics that we’ve compiled below.
LGBT Discrimination in the Workplace Statistics 
LGBT People of Color Face More Discrimination When Applying For Jobs
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, along with NPR and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, conducted a survey on discrimination in America. Their findings showed that while different groups may face discrimination, each group faces differing and complex forms of it in their lives.
In a survey, it was found that at least one in five surveyed LGBT people—20%—reported that they had experienced discrimination when applying for jobs because they were LGBT.
However, this number changes when looking at responses from LGBT people of color in the survey. The author’s of the survey found that:
“LGBTQ people of color are at least twice as likely as white LGBTQ people say they have been personally discriminated against because they are LGBTQ when applying for jobs and when interacting with police […] compared to white LGBTQ people.”
All in all, people of color who are a part of the LGBT community disproportionately face hiring discrimination.
Transgender Employees Face Different Forms of Harassment at Work
When conducting research on bigenderism, authors Joel Rudin, Tejinder Billing, Andrea Farro, and Yang Yang revealed that transgender individuals experience workplace harassment in various forms.
One example included coworkers intentionally using the wrong pronouns. Other forms of harassment were transgender workers being barred from the bathroom of their choice and invasive questions on the status of their surgery.
According to research by Karen Schilt, some trans men and women have different experiences with workplace discrimination:
“While not all transmen had smooth workplace transitions, they did not report nearly the same level of organizational opposition and coworker harassment as transwomen.”
The severity of harassment at work is not fully known because often incidents go unreported. Companies need to take aggressive action and are taking leaps and bounds to ensure all employees feel safe at work.
Many LGBT Employees Do Not Share Their True Identity at Work
In 2018, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation conducted a survey on workplace climate for LGBT workers. The survey’s results showed the pressure that many LGBT workers feel when at work.
A majority of non-LGBT respondents said they felt comfortable working with an LGBT coworker. However, 59% of non-LGBT workers also said that it was “unprofessional to talk about sexual orientation and gender identity in the workplace.”
Additionally, the survey revealed that 50% of non-LGBT workers reported no openly LGBT coworkers at their job. Conversely, 46% of LGBT workers reported they remained closeted at work.
Of those surveyed, LGBT workers shared the following reasons for not being open at work about their sexuality:
- 38% of respondents didn’t want to be stereotyped.
- 36% of respondents didn’t want to make their coworkers uncomfortable.
- 31% of respondents feared they’d lose relationships with their coworkers.
- 27% of respondents worried that their coworkers would think they were attracted to them just because they were LGBT.
The Workplace is Improving: Many Fortune 500 Companies Now Provide LGBT Employees Unique Benefits
All in all, these LGBT discrimination in the workplace statistics show that there are still places for companies to grow. Nevertheless, there are some companies that have taken the lead in expanding their diversity inclusion.
According to the HRC Foundation’s 2020 Corporate Equality Index, a majority of Fortune 500 companies have made active changes to policies for LGBT workers.
The CEI report shows that 91% of Fortune 500 have made changes to discrimination policies to include gender identity protection.
Additionally, 53% of all Fortune 500 now offer domestic partner benefits while 65% offer transgender-inclusive health benefits.
Feel at Home in Your Dream Career at an LGBT Inclusive Company
As public opinion continues to shift with the LGBT rights movement’s continued efforts, the workplace is also changing.
Companies have begun to realize that despite this public shift, their LGBT employees still lack the support they need at work.
As a result, many prominent companies have dedicated their diversity efforts to creating a more welcoming LGBT inclusive workplace.