The majority of LGBTIQ employees in Australia are not comfortable sharing their identity at work, compromising their overall wellbeing and performance, new research suggests.
The study, Out at Work: From Prejudice to Pride was overseen by the Diversity Council Australia (DCA), RMIT University, the Star Observer, Deloitte and QBE. It found that only 32 percent of LGBTIQ+ workers had disclosed their identity and status within their organisation.
So why does this matter?
For starters, concealing compromises wellbeing. LGBTIQ employees who kept their identity concealed were reportedly twice as likely to feel down compared to employees who were openly out. While 45 percent were reportedly less satisfied with their role overall.
Secondly, the freedom of being out at work linked conclusively to greater workplace productivity. LGBTIQ+ employees who were not concealing their identity at work were shown to be 50 percent more likely to innovate than workers who did hide their identity. They were also 35 percent more likely to work highly effectively in their team and 28 percent more likely to provide excellent customer service.
The study also explored the reasons why LGBTIQ individuals felt motivated to conceal their identity in this way, and looked at the actions workplaces can take to ensure safe and inclusive environments for LGBTIQ+ workers to be themselves.
Such actions included bold leadership practices, and policies and strategies that recognise the specific needs of LGBTIQ+ people. Critically, the study showed that LGBTIQ individuals in highly inclusive workplaces were three times as likely as those in non-inclusive workplaces to reveal their identity to colleagues.
Other Key report findings:
- 74% of LGBTIQ+ respondents surveyed, expressed it was important for them to be out at work, however only 32 percent were
- This figure dropped even further for workers with more than one LGBTIQ+ attribute (e.g. they may be transgender and gay) – only 14% were out to everyone at work
- Only 16 percent of bisexual workers were out to everyone at work
- 28 percent of workers who are trans or gender diverse were out to no one at work – compared to only 4 percent of LGB workers
- One in two LGB workers openly talk about their identity with colleagues versus only one in ten doing so with their clients/customers.