More on LGBT in the workplace

Courtesy of The Center for Work-Life Policy, New York City.

Well, I sure picked a great week to revisit Linda Wang’s feature in the May 23rd issue of C&EN. Just in time for our Diversity in Science blog carnival focused on LGBT issues in the STEM disciplines, New York became the most populous state to legalize same-sex marriage.

The second bit of news this week is a report released by the Center for Work-Life Policy on “the loss to individuals and to the bottom line when organizations fail to create a workplace hospitable to their lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) employees.” The report entitled, “The Power of ‘Out’,” is featured in the July/August issue of Harvard Business Review.

You can read the full press release here as a PDF but here are a few main points thanks to my colleague, Pam Spaulding, at Pam’s House Blend:

The data, based on a survey of 2,952 respondents, show the consequences when LGBT employees are forced to keep their lives and loved ones a secret from colleagues.

Among the findings:

•       This is a highly desirable labor pool: ambitious (71%), committed (88% are willing to go the extra mile for employers) and better educated (48% of LGBT respondents have graduate degrees versus 40% of their straight counterparts).

Despite a rise in anti-discrimination protections for LGBT employees, 48 percent of LGBT survey respondents reported being closeted at work. Staying in the closet has huge consequences.

Those who are out flourish at work, while those who are in the closet languish or leave.

•       LGBT employees who are not out reported significantly greater feelings of being stalled in their careers and greater dissatisfaction with their rates of promotion and advancement.

•       LGBT employees who are not out are 40 percent less likely to trust their employer than those who are out.

•       Employees who remain closeted and isolated are 73 percent more likely to leave their companies within the next three years.

This is a group with economic clout and loyalty to gay friendly brands. A recent study estimates the LGBT community’s collective buying power at more than $700 billion in the U.S. alone. This is a constituency with economic firepower companies should not ignore.

Of note to ACS members and our other readers is that one of the major funders of the study was Boehringer Ingelheim USA.

Join LGBT scientists and allies for the blog carnival at Jeremy Loder's Denim & Tweed. Click the icon for ideas - tomorrow (Mon 27 June) is the deadline for submitting posts.

And if you haven’t yet read Linda Wang’s stories on LGBT initiatives by the ACS, here are some easy links to them in the May 23, 2011 issue of C&EN:

Coming Out in the Chemical Sciences

ACS Creates a New Subdivision for Gay & Transgender Chemists and Allies

Paving the Way: Finding Mentors and Role Models

Corporate Equality: Best Companies for LGBT Scientists

Finally, in light of the New York legislative win, you might care to read this tender essay by science journalist extraordinaire, Steve Silberman (Neurotribes blog, website, Twitter), in the May 2009 issue of Shambala Sun.

Author: David Kroll

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