HRC survey: Nearly half of LGBTQ workers are not out at job

By : Kathy Ruiz
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The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has been conducting surveys about the queer experience at the workplace since 2008. This year, when they conducted the survey, they found that nearly half of LGBTQ employees are not out at work.

The survey, titled “A Workplace Divided: Understanding the Climate for LGBTQ Workers Nationwide,” seeks to uncover the prevalence of LGBTQ workers feeling pressure to hide their sexual orientation and/or gender identity on the job and the cost of that hiding both to individuals and employer. It also focuses on researching the benefits to employers and workers when workplace climates are more welcoming of LGBTQ people.

The survey found that 1-in-5 LGBTQ workers report having been told or had coworkers imply that they should dress in a more feminine or masculine manner. The survey also found that 53 percent of LGBTQ workers report hearing jokes about lesbian or gay people at least once in a while, and 59 percent of non-LGBTQ workers think it’s unprofessional to talk about sexual orientation and gender identity in the workplace — even though, by their own self-reporting, non-LGBTQ workers regularly talk about spouses, families and life outside of work.

Even with these unsettling numbers, queer workers tend not to report negative comments they hear about LGBTQ people to a supervisor or human resources because they don’t think anything would be done about it and they don’t want to hurt their relationships with coworkers.

The survey goes on to state that 31 percent of LGBTQ respondents reported felling unhappy or depressed and another 20 percent reported staying home from work because their workplace wasn’t always accepting.

“While LGBTQ-inclusive corporate policies are becoming the norm, LGBTQ workers too often face a climate of bias in their workplace,” said Deena Fidas, director of HRC’s Workplace Equality Program. “LGBTQ employees are still avoiding making personal and professional connections at work because they fear coming out — and that hurts not only that employee, but the company as a whole. Even the best-of-the-best private sector employers with top-rated policies and practices must do more to nurture a climate of inclusion for all.”

To learn more about the HRC’s survey, please visit


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