If you're hoping to get a job or start a graduate scheme, as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, you may encounter a few challenges. This article discusses some of these issues, provides hints and tips to help you overcome them, and how to find inclusive employers
Discrimination, prejudice, and bullying are just three common issues that some members of the LGBTQ+ community face in the workplace. It can be hard enough starting a new job, but facing these things makes it even harder. Therefore, seeking an employer that's inclusive and welcoming to all, will help to reduce these issues.
When UCAS completed a survey in 2020, they discovered that LGBTQ+ students were more likely to have a disability, a mental health condition or come from a disadvantaged background in comparison to their heterosexual counterparts. These are all things that make it harder to find an employer that will be supportive. But it's always recommended to promote your strengths to an employer. Any graduate who has faced any of these issues and still graduated has demonstrated their resilience, determination, and tenacity. These are qualities that all employers value.
When and how should I disclose my sexuality or gender identity?
While seeking work, you may be anxious about an employer's reaction should you choose to disclose your sexuality or gender identity. No-one can force you to disclose this information if you don't feel comfortable doing so, but if you're able to be your true self at work, it will be a win-win for both you and your employer. Hiding any facet of yourself is mentally and physically exhausting and in the long term it could lead to illness. By being open about yourself, you'll be a happier and more productive employee.
If you feel comfortable enough, there are many ways you can subtly, or not so subtly, disclose your sexual orientation or gender identity to an employer. Here are a few suggestions that could be used on your CV, during an interview or while working:
- mentioning your role within an LGBTQ+ student society or similar
- talking about volunteering with your local Pride
- wearing a rainbow (or similar) pin badge or lanyard
- joining the LGBTQ+ network at work (or starting one if there isn't one already)
- 'outing' yourself to your immediate boss or a trusted colleague first and then slowly spreading the word as you get to know your colleagues better.
Some employers will ask you to complete a diversity monitoring form. This may ask you questions about your sexual orientation and gender identity. These forms are not used when deciding whether to interview you or offer you a job, they should only ever be used to monitor the diversity of the employees within the company for statistical reporting purposes only.
Ultimately, it's your choice - don't get pressurised into doing something you're not comfortable with.
What do I do if I face discrimination in the workplace?
Any form of discrimination is unwelcome and can make work very difficult. It can come in a variety of shapes and forms, including offensive comments, unfair treatment, being denied training or promotion opportunities and being picked on or undermined.
Everyone has the right to be respected and treated with dignity in the workplace. If you're being discriminated against in any way, if possible, you need to talk to the person or people doing it and try to sort it out with them informally. If this fails or isn't possible, you should speak to your boss - or potentially their boss. In some workplaces it could be the HR department that you approach.
It's important to say something. Suffering from discrimination can take an emotional toll on you and negatively affect your mental health and work productivity. If you have an LGBTQ+ staff network in your workplace, try speaking to its members to get support and advice. If necessary, you can speak with Citizens Advice too.
How can I find an inclusive employer?
There are several things you can do while job hunting to find inclusive employers and opportunities, including the following:
- Read the diversity policy on their website.
- Ask if they have an LGBTQ+ staff network or mentoring scheme.
- Look for Stonewall or Proud Employers logos on their resources.
- Search their Instagram posts to see if they attended a local Pride event.
- Check to see if the organisation is listed on the Stonewall Equality Index of over 400 employers.
- Network and attend career events, especially those targeted at LGBTQ+ students and graduates such as WorkPride organised by myGwork.
You could also use an inclusive job search or professional networking site such as:
Find out more
- Take a look at LGBTQ+ in the workplace: Employer view.
- Read about diversity and improved opportunities.