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LGBT+ employees pressured to act ‘straight’ in order to progress

Nearly two thirds (62%) of LGBT+ employees believe they have to code-switch and act ‘straight’ in order to progress at work.

According to new research from diversity and inclusion (D&I) consultancy Involve, almost a third (30%) believed senior management would be more likely promote non-LGBT+ colleagues who have more in common with them.

A further 28% said they had been actively discriminated against in the promotion process.

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The findings may be contributing to pay disparity between LGBT+ and non-LGBT+ colleagues as half (49%) of employees surveyed said they thought their company has LGBT+ pay gap.

Suki Sandhu, CEO and founder of Involve and executive search firm Audeliss, said the findings show much more must be done to improve the inclusion and belonging of LGBT+ colleagues.

Speaking to HR magazine, Sandhu said: “It is a clear sign that LGBT+ people are being held back from reaching their potential, stuck beneath ‘glass ceilings’ which are preventing them from reaching well-paid senior leadership positions.

“Where there are fewer LGBT+ leaders, the average earnings level compared to heterosexual and cisgender employees is undoubtedly impacted.”

To address LGBT+ pay gaps, Sandhu said organisations must have a zero-tolerance approach to discrimination.

He added: “Trainings which increase knowledge of the LGBT+ community and understanding of the challenges LGBT+ employees often face can reduce bias and create a more inclusive culture where all talent can thrive.

“Development programmes, which give potential LGBT+ leaders access to the same levels of mentoring and career support often afforded to others, can also fast track progress to LGBT+ pay equality.” 

Trans individuals in the workplace were the most likely (85%) to feel the need to code-switch in order to progress followed by 68% of lesbian women.

Just 40% of all LGBT+ employees polled said they are completely open about their identify with everyone at work.

Involve findings are based on a Censuswide survey of 531 LGBT+ people taken between 21 and 28 October.