Findings of Deloitte’s survey on LGBT+ Inclusion

Deloitte decided to take a look at the impact of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) strategies many organizations incorporate.

In recent years many organizations took it upon themselves to focus more on LGBT+ communities along with making visible and vocal commitments to LGBT+ inclusion by taking part in events like Pride and beyond.

While steps in this direction are undoubtedly a positive move the question remains: what is their actual impact on the lived experience of LGBT+ employees in the workplace? In order to get the answer Deloitte (an international professional services network, headquartered in London, England) surveyed 600 members of the LGBT+ community employed in a variety of sectors; these respondents were located across 12 geographies and territories around the world, namely: Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, South Africa, United Kingdom and United States. The goal was to provide an insight on the lived experience of LGBT+ people in the workplace across these countries to understand their daily realities, what organizations are getting right, and what can
be done better.

The shortcut of the key insights of the report are presented below, link to the full report can be found at the end of this article.

The majority of LGBT+ employees admit that incorporating LGBT+ inclusion as part of talent or inclusion priorities by their employers is having a positive impact.

  • Around 80% of respondents reports that their employers have introduced LGBT+ inclusion actions and initiative, nearly all (95%) believe that this has led to meaningful support for LGBT+ employees across the organization.
  • The actions taken by these organizations vary:
    • nearly 40% cite talking openly about LGBT+ inclusion within the organization
    • a third cite support of LGBT+ allies programs
    • a third report that their organization includes LGBT+ inclusion as part of external recruitment campaigns
    • nearly a third (31%) say that their employers discuss LGBT+ inclusion externally at forums such as business events.
  • Over 70% of all respondents indicate that they are more inclined to remain with their current organization because of its approach to LGBT+ inclusion.
  • The vast majority (93%) of respondents who work within organizations with a global reach also believe that organization-level communications and actions around LGBT+ inclusion are translating
    into meaningful support in their home countries.

Allyship, Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), visible use of pronouns, and the employer’s visible external support for LGBT+ inclusion are important!

  • Respondents cite allyship enables LGBT+ employees to feel comfortable in their workplaces, with nearly 40% believing that allies speaking up to address non-inclusive behaviors, listening to and learning from their LGBT+ colleagues can help foster more LGBT+ inclusive work environments.
  • At organizations with LGBT+ ERGs, half of LGBT+ employees reported the positive impact of having allies support their LGBT+ networks and indicated that this support has been critical to making them feel comfortable being out about their gender identity and/or sexual orientation at work.
  • And the ERGs themselves are seen as having a significant impact, with over 90% of those respondents whose employers have ERGs reporting that the group helps them feel comfortable being out at work.
  • Visible use of pronouns is also cited as impactful, with more than 70% of LGBT+ employees indicating that visibly using pronouns in email signatures and visible support from their employers, such as participation in Pride events, contributes to LGBT+ inclusion.

LGBT+ employees reported facing non-inclusive behaviors in a work context

  • Around four in ten (42%) of LGBT+ respondents reported experiencing non-inclusive behaviors at work. And over 80% of these respondents feel that they are experiencing these behaviors more often than their colleagues who are not LGBT+.
  • One-third of the LGBT+ employees who have experienced such behaviors have experienced them in
    both office and remote working environments.
  • Unwanted comments or jokes of a sexual nature (33%) were the most cited behaviors experienced, followed by “jokes at my expense (banter)” (31%). Other behaviors included unwanted physical contact (21%) or being excluded socially (20%). Most LGBT+ respondents who reported experiencing noninclusive behaviors at work have experienced more than one type of non-inclusive behavior.

The majority of respondents who experienced non-inclusive behaviors reported them to their employer—and most were satisfied with the response; for those who didn’t report, the rationale varies by gender

  • Of those respondents who encountered non-inclusive behaviors, nearly three quarters reported their experience to their employer, with six in ten being satisfied with the response.
  • When considered by gender identity, there were minimal differences in responses as to why those who experienced non-inclusive behaviors didn’t report them to their employer. Women were, however, more concerned than men that their complaints would not be taken seriously (40% compared to 22%) and that the behavior wasn’t serious enough to report (33% compared to 16%), while men were more concerned than women that the behavior would get worse (38% compared to 17%).

Non-inclusive behaviors could impact retention

  • Nearly 4 in ten (37%) of all respondents say that they are actively considering changing employers to find one with a more LGBT+ inclusive culture. This is most notable among those who have experienced non-inclusive behaviors at work compared to those who have not.
  • LGBT+ employees who have not faced non-inclusive behaviors at work are nearly twice as likely to plan to stay for more than five years in their current roles than their LGBT+ colleagues who have faced such behaviors (30% vs. 16%).

Many LGBT+ respondents choose not to share their sexual orientation and/or gender identity at work beyond their closest colleagues

  • Less than half of LGBT+ employees (45%) are out about their sexual orientation to the majority of their colleagues and approximately one fifth are not open about their sexual orientation to anyone at work.
  • Similarly, among LGBT+ employees whose gender identity differs from the one assigned at birth, less than half (43%) reported being out to most of their colleagues. Around one quarter (26%) reported being out to some of their colleagues, while nearly one fifth (17%) reported that they are not out to any colleagues.
  • For those respondents who are out to the majority of their colleagues, nine in ten agreed that this is because their workplace culture makes them comfortable being out.
  • Of those who are out to some—but not the majority—of their colleagues, over half (57%) attributed this to a preference to keep their sexual orientation private outside their closest colleagues; 36% also said that while their immediate team members/colleagues make them feel comfortable to be out, the organization at large does not.
  • For those who prefer to keep their gender identity private outside of their immediate team members, nearly one-quarter (23%) are worried that being out to the majority of their colleagues will adversely impact their career. These concerns suggest that there are still perceived stigmas about being out within their everyday workplace culture.