Almost two-thirds of LGBT+ staff feel they have to tone down their identities or ‘act straight’ to progress in their careers, according to research from INvolve, an inclusion consultancy.
More than nine in 10 believe there are barriers preventing employees in the LGBT+ community from reaching senior roles, INvolve found, and 42% said a lack of role models was hindering progression.
INvolve has published its annual list of LGBT+ role models, featuring workers from across 23 countries. Its research found that certain industries were more inclusive than others – 62% of LGBT+ workers in construction believed there was an LGBT+ pay gap in their business compared with 49% overall.
More than two-thirds (67%) of respondents in IT thought there was a pay gap, and 59% in finance.
Of the 62% of employees who feel they have to ‘act straight’ in order to progress at their company, this increased significantly for trans employees (85%) and lesbian women (68%). Workers in finance and construction were much more likely to have to ‘code switch’ to get ahead, INvolve found.
Supporting LGBT+ staff
There was also a feeling that managers tended to recruit employees who had more in common with them – 28% said they had been actively discriminated against by senior leaders when deciding promotions, while a fifth said they had been prevented from interacting with clients due to their LGBT+ identity.
As a result, only four in 10 are fully open about their identity at work, it found.
Suki Sandhu, founder and CEO of INvolve, said a recent rise in hostility towards the LGBT+ community meant it was important to celebrate role models.
“It’s disappointing, to say the least, to see that LGBT+ people are still being held back from reaching their potential and progressing to the most senior levels in business,” he said.
“Ultimately, we all want, and deserve, to see ourselves meaningfully represented in aspirational career positions.”
Ken Ohashi, CEO of men’s clothing retailer Brooks Brothers, was ranked number one in the organisation’s LGBT+ executives role model list.
“There are so many young people who struggle for acceptance or have circumstances or challenges that they must overcome. I hope that having visible LGBT+ leaders can both inspire and reassure those just beginning to make their way in the world that their potential is limitless,” he said.
A survey by the TUC earlier this year found that one in five workplaces do not have policies in place to support LGBT+ staff.