LGBT employees report unique experiences of exclusion and echo similar
workplace hurdles to women
TORONTO, June 3 /CNW/ - Even in Canada, a country with legislated human
rights protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT)
individuals, LGBT employees face workplace barriers that limit career
advancement and, therefore, restrict potential contributions to organizational
success, according to Catalyst's third report on building LGBT-inclusive
workplaces, Building LGBT-Inclusive Workplaces: Engaging Organizations and
Individuals in Change. The new Canadian-based study, sponsored by Scotiabank,
finds that a lack of awareness, which may cause other employees to rely on
stereotypes, can lead to a hostile work environment for LGBT employees
including discriminatory behaviours such as inappropriate humour or derogatory
language; exclusion from important relationships and advancement
opportunities; and a lack of role models.
The study suggests that since some LGBT employees are "invisible" and
choose not to disclose or come out, organizations may not fully understand the
benefits, needs, and challenges of these employees. It also points out that
when LGBT employees spend less effort managing disclosure and can focus on
their work, both organizations and employees benefit.
"Leaders who understand the bottom-line benefits of diversity should be
eager to implement LGBT-inclusion programs," said Deborah Gillis, Vice
President, North America, Catalyst. "LGBT inclusive workplaces can increase
employee engagement by allowing employees to be authentic and spend less time
self-editing. That reduces costs by decreasing turnover. It can also
potentially increase revenue by encouraging LGBT employees to help the
organization tap new markets and enhance customer loyalty."
According to the study, concerted efforts by organizations to create
LGBT-inclusive workplaces, such as diversity training, employee networks, and
mentoring programs, help to raise awareness and dispel myths, resulting in
better workplace relationships, improved perceptions about workplace fairness,
and increased career satisfaction and organizational commitment for LGBT
"We believe very strongly in the importance of promoting inclusive
practices, and that inclusion can only happen in the absence of judgment or
bias," said Sylvia Chrominska, Scotiabank Group Head Global Human Resources
and Communications. "We applaud Catalyst for providing information that will
serve to continue the conversation amongst Canadian businesses about the need
for LGBT inclusion as part of a well-rounded strategy to achieve real
diversity. As a recognized employer of choice, Scotiabank has
long-acknowledged the importance of inclusion."
Through its LGBT series, Catalyst extends its focus on gender diversity
to include LGBT employees - recognizing that women may identify as lesbian,
gay, bisexual or transgender. This Catalyst study offers new insights about
specific challenges facing LGBT women. While few differences were based on
gender, LGBT women did report "less friendly workplaces" than LGBT men:
- 76% of LGBT women vs 85% of all others reported that their manager
was comfortable interacting with them.
- 70% of LGBT women reported that their manager evaluated performance
fairly vs 80% of LGBT men and 77% of non-LGBT women and men.
- On average, LGBT women are "out" to 50% of their workgroup vs LGBT
men out to 72% of their workgroup.
The study reports that LGBT employees working in organizations with
effective and inclusive diversity practices indicated better workplace
relationships and greater organizational commitment and career satisfaction
(linked to greater productivity) than LGBT employees at organizations without
them. To help organizations become more inclusive and increase their brand as
an "employer of choice," Catalyst offers a number of recommendations,
- Increase awareness - identify and tackle organizational issues
related to LGBT employees company-wide.
- Implement diversity training to help dispel LGBT myths/stereotypes.
- Help LGBT employees find mentors and employee groups.
- Make consistent and inclusive communications a core goal.
Scotiabank is the Contributing Sponsor of Building LGBT-Inclusive
Workplaces: Engaging Organizations and Individuals in Change.
Founded in 1962, Catalyst is the leading nonprofit membership
organization working globally with businesses and the professions to build
inclusive workplaces and expand opportunities for women and business. With
offices in the United States, Canada, and Europe, and more than 400 preeminent
corporations as members, Catalyst is the trusted resource for research,
information, and advice about women at work. Catalyst annually honors
exemplary organizational initiatives that promote women's advancement with the
For further information:
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