The Deloitte Global 2023 LGBT+ Inclusion @ Work report explores the experiences of more than 5,400 non-Deloitte LGBT+ respondents who work in various sectors across 13 countries through the lens of both sexual orientation and gender identity. The report provides an in-depth view into the experiences of LGBT+ people in the workplace, including the steps their employers are taking to further LGBT+ inclusion and the impact this has on them, their levels of comfort in being out at work, and their experiences of non-inclusive behavior.
“The survey findings reinforce that when organizations foster diversity and demonstrate a commitment to LGBT+ inclusion, it can have a positive impact on the lives and experiences of all employees in the workplace,” says Elizabeth Faber, Deloitte Global Chief People & Purpose Officer. “However, the survey also shows that organizations should do more to provide an environment in which LGBT+ employees feel able to be themselves at work.”
A third of respondents are actively looking for a new job in search of a more LGBT+ inclusive employer. When seeking a new employer, nearly seven in 10 (69%) respondents cite workforce diversity as their top consideration. This is followed by the opportunity to be involved in diversity and inclusion initiatives (64%), the organization’s internal (63%) and external (56%) commitment to LGBT+ inclusion, and having leaders who are out at work (53%).
Gen Z and millennial respondents are far more likely than their Gen X counterparts to place an emphasis on diversity and inclusion when seeking a new employer. Four in 10 Gen X respondents (43%) said they actively sought out information about an organization’s commitment to diversity and inclusion before applying to their current role, compared to nearly two-thirds of millennials (64%) and three-quarters of Gen Zs (72%). This generational difference can also be seen when it comes to how important they feel it is to be able to be out at work about their sexual orientation or gender identity, and how directly involved they want to be in diversity and inclusion initiatives.
The majority of respondents attach a high level of importance to being able to freely express their LGBT+ identity at work. Six in 10 respondents believe it is important to be able to freely express their sexual orientation at work, while 75% said the same for gender identity.
However, less than half feel comfortable being out with all of their colleagues, and another third of respondents say they are only comfortable being out at work with select colleagues. Many are more comfortable being out with close colleagues compared to being out with their direct managers and more senior leaders—just under 60% are open with their closest colleagues about their sexual orientation, and 54% about their gender identity. This compares to only 37% who are comfortable being out about either their sexual orientation or gender identity with their direct managers.
For those who are not comfortable being out, the most common reason is a concern about being treated differently. Beyond this, the reasons vary by sexual orientation and gender identity. From a sexual orientation perspective, a preference not to discuss their private life at work is the next most cited reason, followed by concerns about facing discrimination or harassment, and that they would not be treated with respect. Nearly two in 10 respondents cite concerns for personal safety. From a gender identity perspective, concerns about discrimination or harassment are the second most cited reason, followed by a worry that they would not be treated with respect. Just over a quarter cite concerns for their personal safety.
Comfort in being out at work increases with seniority, particularly when it comes to sexual orientation—more than half (51%) of those in senior roles are comfortable being out at work, compared to more than a third (37%) of junior employees. This trend holds true for gender identity, but the difference is less significant—54% of those in senior roles are comfortable being out about their gender identity at work, compared to 46% of junior respondents.
Regardless of seniority, having allies at work plays a part when it comes to comfort in being out. Six in 10 respondents say that allyship helps them be out at work about their sexual orientation, and almost seven in 10 say the same when it comes to gender identity. The survey findings also show that having LGBT+ role models at work strongly correlates with greater comfort being out at work.
Four in 10 respondents (42%) have experienced non-inclusive behaviours in a work context, and just under half say they are certain they experienced them as a result of their sexual orientation or gender identity, with a further 37% saying they strongly suspect this to be the reason.
When it comes to escalating this behaviour to their employer so that action can be taken, 43% of respondents did not report their experience to their employer. For these respondents, four in 10 didn’t think their complaint would be taken seriously, closely followed by a concern that reporting would make the situation worse, and around a third didn’t have confidence that action would be taken. Less than a third didn’t report because they were concerned about adverse career impact.
“The data from the survey shows how far there still is to go when it comes to embedding LGBT+ inclusion in the workplace,” says Emma Codd, Deloitte Global Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer. “Many respondents want to be out at work but feel unable to be so with all colleagues due to concerns about being treated differently, discrimination and harassment, and—for some—their personal safety. Concerns that are perhaps unsurprising, when many of those experiencing non-inclusive behaviours say they are certain—or strongly suspect—that this is a result of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Employers should take action to ensure that they provide an LGBT+ inclusive workplace—underpinned at all times by respect.”
To learn more about the Deloitte Global 2023 LGBT+ Inclusion @ Work Survey findings, please visit: www.deloitte.com/lgbtatwork.
The Deloitte Global LGBT+ Inclusion @ Work study is a global survey of 5,474 LGBT+ employees across 13 countries that took place between January and February 2023 via online quantitative interviews and one-to-one in-depth qualitative discussions.
Countries surveyed include Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, India, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Poland, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States.