Being out at work: it’s also getting better

by Glenda Childress

In the July-August 2011 issue of the Harvard Business Review, the article ‘For LGBT Workers, Being “Out” Brings Advantages‘ presents some facts on the status of LGBT in the workplace. With an estimated 7 Million LGBT working in the U.S. private sector, 29 states say it is legal to fire someone for being gay.  On the bright side, 85% of Fortune 500 companies have protective policies that address sexual orientation—up from 51% in 2000. Additional analysis from this article is presented by one of the authors on the HBR blog, The Cost of Closeted Employees.

Workers are receiving mixed messages from corporations on the safety of being out at work and nearly half of LGBT remain closeted at work out of a fear that their career will suffer. Closeted employees spend energy and time at work hiding their identities and often are isolated from their colleagues. LGBT employees have the same talent, career goals, and aspirations as other employees.

What do you think about these articles and the implication for corporations and employees?

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  1. Looking at these numbers, I am hopeful that the situation is getting better, in the US and outside. Having been totally out at work for a few years now, I feel SO much more comfortable. I still remember trying to dodge questions when some of my co-workers were asking me whether I had any girlfriend, back when I started working in 2005; and let me tell you – it takes a lot of energy to do so.

    This being said, I did start to be more open at work because I felt comfortable in my job and in Alcatel-Lucent. I can only imagine what it’s like to be in a company that doesn’t support you this way.

      1. Hi Emmly,
        Just like Viki, feel free to join and support LGBT-supportive initiative in your company, if there is already something, or you may just start something on your own… it takes courage and energy, but it’s certainly worth it!

    1. Hi Viki,

      Do you have a plan to put into action?

      Not sure if you’re working in ALU or in some other company where there is an active LGBT-supportive Employee Resource Group, but I’m sure your ideas and energy would be welcome 🙂

      And if you do work in ALU, feel free to join EQUAL! if you’re not already a member!


  2. Hi Glenda,

    Referring to your article, I’ve always wondered how this “29 states say it is legal to fire someone for being gay” really translate in real life?

    In those states and in companies which do not prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, a manager could just say to one of his/her reports “you’re gay/lesbian, i don’t like gay/lesbian, you’re fired” without any other serious reason and then the employee would have no way to get compensation from the company??

    Thanks for your clarification!

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