The not-for-profit organisation interviewed 200 LGBT senior executives for the survey. Over four-fifths (85%) thought closeted LGBT professionals waste energy pretending to be someone they’re not and 61% believe this group is less committed to their organisation.
In addition, 80% of those polled said if people are not able to be themselves at work it damages their confidence, and 86% believe it leaves them isolated from their colleagues.
More positively, 60% of respondents don’t see sexuality-based workplace harassment as an issue and 74% said being out has not had a negative impact on their career progression.
Respondents identified a difference in attitudes towards inclusion depending on seniority. While 45% said executives have an inclusive attitude towards LGBT colleagues, only 24% said the same of middle managers.
A quarter of respondents said they would like to see more mentoring opportunities for LGBT employees, and 27% raised the need for more openly LGBT executive role models.
CEO and founder of OUTstanding Suki Sandhu said for many LGBT people the perception remains that it’s “safer” to stay in the closet in order to progress at work. “It’s vital that those in leadership positions use their influence to communicate that by being authentic and yourself at work; business professionals will be more confident, perform better and ultimately boost the business’s bottom line,” he added.
Respondents highlighted IBM, Google and Barclays as the organisations taking the greatest steps to encourage LGBT diversity.
Claudia Brind-Woody, vice president and managing director of intellectual property licensing at IBM said: “Fostering an openly diverse working environment is good business, it allows us to retain the best talent, encourage innovation and empower our employees to bring their whole selves to work.”