On June 26th of 2015, the Supreme Court declared that same-sex couples had the right to marry in all 50 states. For many, this was a momentous and historic moment for the LGBT rights movement; however, this ruling addressed one of many rights issues that impact the LGBT community.
Today, other issues remain prominent for LGBT workers.
Currently, federal and state laws do not comprehensively protect an LGBT individual’s rights in the workplace. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protects all individuals from discrimination due to sex, but there is no federal law explicitly stating this extends to LGBT identity.
LGBT workplace issues fall into two categories: overt discrimination and subtle issues that exist in a workplace’s social dynamics.
Both kinds of discrimination can add to an LGBT employee’s sense of not fitting in, feeling harassed, and more, which can lead employees to look for work elsewhere.
Keep reading to learn more about LGBT workplace issues that are still prominent in 2020 and how they can impact your employees.
LGBT Workplace Issues That Are Still Prevalent in 2020
Employment Discrimination Remains
A major issue that LGBT workers have faced is employment discrimination.
Employment discrimination laws define discriminatory acts as follows:
“Discriminatory practices include bias in hiring, promotion, job assignment, termination, compensation, retaliation, and various types of harassment.”
This legislation refers to one’s biological sex, but many in the LGBT community feel it should include discrimination due to gender norms.
For example, when seeking a job, transgender candidates have lost job opportunities because their hair or dress style didn’t conform to gender stereotypes in a given workplace.
In addition to a lack of inclusion in federal legislation, LGBT workers face a lack of legal protection, depending on what state they live in.
In the United States, 22 states have legislation prohibiting discrimination for private and public employees due to sexual orientation and gender identity. Other states have legislation, but often only for public employees.
Wage Gap Exists Between LGBT and Non-LGBT Workers
The Equal Pay Act of 1963 prohibits sex discrimination when an employer pays wages. However, much like employment discrimination laws, this law does not extend to discrimination based upon gender identity or sexuality. Accordingly, a wage gap exists between LGBT and non-LGBT employees.
A study showed that gay men report a higher salary than their lesbian coworkers, and both groups receive lower wages than non-LGBT employees.
In addition, LGBT workers face challenges when it comes to job promotions.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation conducted a survey in which LGBT workers were asked about their local communities and employers.
About 23% of respondents shared that they or those they knew were passed up for promotion more often due to their sexuality. For transgender respondents, 40% believe they were passed up for a promotion due to their gender identity.
Workplace Acceptance Has Far to Go
In the workplace, an important part of company culture is how employees interact with each other. The social dynamics of a workplace help create its unique culture and environment.
Some companies have taken an active role in supporting LGBT staff with initiatives that prioritize their LGBT employees. However, there are many companies that do not offer any kind of unique LGBT support for employees.
Other aspects of workplace dynamics that negatively impact an LGBT employee include how welcoming company culture is.
In a survey conducted by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, 35% of LGBT employees felt the need to hide their identity.
Meanwhile, 81% of non-LGBT participants said that their coworkers shouldn’t feel the need to hide, but less than half of those respondents felt “comfortable hearing LGBT workers talk about dating.”
With double standards like this existing in the workplace, LGBT employees feel uncertain about how open they can be about their identity. This uncertainty can lead to that employee feeling so uncomfortable that they leave that job.
The Road to a Workplace That Welcomes Everyone
The LGBT rights movement has come a long way; nevertheless, there is more to be done, especially in the workplace.
There are numerous ways that employers have started actively taking part in supporting their LGBT staff. Companies like GoDaddy offer increasingly diverse Employee Resource Groups to ensure every employee is taken care of.
While LGBT workplace issues still exist, companies are becoming more aware of how they can better support their employees.