How To Tell if an Employer Is LGBTQ+ Friendly

Article by Madeleine Burry, Fact Checked by Hilarey Gould This article was originally posted in The Balance Nearly 6% of people in the U.S. identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.1 If you’re part of this percentage—or an ally to this community—you’ll want to seek out an employer who supports and promotes LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and others) rights and builds an inclusive workplace. It’s important for both employees who identify as LGBTQ+ and their allies to work in an environment that values inclusiveness. Almost half of employees that are part of the LGBTQ+ community won’t work at a company without LGBTQ+-friendly benefits.2 Working in an environment that is not supportive can be difficult. One in three employees who identify as LGBTQ+ have not come out at work to avoid discrimination, and 24% haven’t come out at work to avoid their gender identity and sexual orientation impacting career opportunities.2 Here are some ways you can learn if a company prioritizes allyship with the LGBTQ+ community.

Key Takeaways

  • Researching a company can help you understand if it focuses on diversity and inclusion, such as when it has an LGBTQ+ affinity group or donates to LGBTQ+-focused charities.
  • Look at a hiring manager’s email signature for pronouns and ask questions during the interview to learn about the company culture.
  • Company reviews and benefits can also tell you whether the company is LGBTQ+ friendly or not.

Research the Company During the application process, you’ll always want to research companies. This is a key step to writing an effective cover letter and making sure your resume is targeted to the job and company. Later in the hiring process, this research will help you ace the interview. Learning about the company will also help you understand the employer’s policies on inclusivity and equity. Use this research time to learn more about the company’s policies and attitude toward LGBTQ+ employees. Here’s how to find out about a prospective employer’s inclusivity practices: Check Out the Company Website and “About Us” Page The company’s website is a key place to learn about an employer’s values. Does the company have an affinity group, offer resources, and state its commitment to equity? These would all be signs of a company that is eager to be inclusive and welcoming.

Note: sometimes, companies also call out where they donate money. That can be very telling when it comes to their values.

Look Up the Employer Look for lists, such as the Human Rights Campaign’s annual Corporate Equality Index, to see if the employer is included and to get details on their rating.3 This will provide insight into the company’s commitment to implementing LGBTQ+-inclusive policies and practices. Scan the Company’s Social Media Accounts Take some time to review the organization’s LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media accounts. Check, for instance, to see if the company posted anything during Pride Month (in June). Ideally, they’ll go beyond that and feature issues important to the LGBTQ+ community year-round. Examine Language During Correspondence and Conversations Asking for your pronouns or including their own in an email signature or introduction is a small way for interviewers to make it clear that they’re invested in equity and inclusion. Inclusive companies will have training sessions and clear policies on appropriate (and inappropriate) language. The language your interviewer chooses to use can give you a sense not only of your interviewer but of the values of the company as a whole.

Note: during in-person interviews, you can ask questions too. You can directly ask about what the company does to make its workplace inclusive. Or you can come at it sideways: Asking about the dress code, for instance, may reveal dated, gendered policies. 

Check Your Network and Company Reviews There’s no substitute for firsthand accounts when you want to know more about an employer. Tap your LinkedIn network to see if you know anyone who works at the company. You can shoot people an email to find out more about their experience. Another way to get details on the company’s inclusivity practices is to look for reviews on sites such as Glassdoor. Explore Company Benefits  While you’re researching the employer, you can see if there’s information about benefits and perks available on the company website. You can also ask questions during the interview to determine whether benefits are inclusive. Some key benefits to look for include the following:4

  • Health care benefits for domestic partners
  • Health care benefits for transgender individuals for medically necessary care
  • Fertility support, such as IVF or adoption (that isn’t reserved for heterosexual employees)
  • Gender transition policies and practices
  • Inclusive parental and family leave policies
  • Bereavement policies that include benefits for a partner or partner’s family
  • LGBTQ+ employee resource group

These types of employee benefits can help you both professionally and financially. Access to affinity and employee resource groups can help you grow your network, which has long-term positive implications for your career. You may find that in a more casual setting, for example, you’re able to build relationships with high-level people at the company. The benefits a company offers also have a profound financial effect if they are offered equitably. For just one example: Medical procedures such as IVF can cost thousands of dollars.5 If that’s covered, you can save a lot of money. But if it’s not covered for people in same-sex relationships, it’s a major cost. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why is LGBTQ+ inclusion important in the workplace?

First and foremost, these types of policies make employees feel safe and welcome. But there are other practical reasons for placing importance on inclusivity. It’s good for recruitment, reduces turnover, and generally leads to a happier, more productive, and more creative workforce.

What are ways to make a workplace more LGBTQ+-friendly?

Whether you’re in management or are an entry-level employee, there are steps you can take to make a workplace more LGBTQ+-friendly. First, avoid making assumptions or asking overly personal questions. Some people may not want to be out at work. Also, use inclusive language. (Don’t, for instance, assume that all people are in a relationship with someone of the opposite sex.)

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