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Corporate America is celebrating Pride Month with rainbow flags and feel-good posts, but could they be doing more?

Despite progress, LGBTQ+ rights organizations like the Human Rights Campaign encourage employers to be more inclusive and outspoken
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· 4 min read

If it’s June, it must be time for corporate America to activate their annual public display of LGBTQ+ support, unfurling rainbow flags outside of offices, posting #ally images on LinkedIn, and publishing feel-good blog posts celebrating their LGBTQ+ employees. But as organizations very publicly align themselves with the LGBTQ+ community during Pride Month, some advocates are calling on employers to do more, by further defining what corporate responsibility to LGBTQ+ workers looks like.

Analysis of Census data by the HRC suggests there could be at least 20 million adults in the US who identify as LGBT, including one in five adult Gen Zers who identify as such, according to a Gallup survey. But despite increased acceptance over the last 20 years, LGBTQ+ people still face hurdles to equality, including pay gaps and the potential for workplace discrimination. And this year’s wave of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation has prompted leaders from GLAAD, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), and some companies to speak out about anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination.

Out at work. Glassdoor’s LGBTQ+ Employee Experience report, released in May, found that organizations that earned high marks for “diversity and inclusion,” and “culture and values” ranked highest among workers who identify as LGBTQ+. Employers were rated on a scale of one to five stars, with Google, Microsoft, Lululemon, and Bath & Body Works among the top-rated employers. However, several high-rated companies in Glassdoor’s report, including Google, have contributed to anti-LGBTQ+ politicians within the last year and a half, according to the newsletter Popular Information. This support is part of why some LGBTQ+ organizations, including the HRC and GLAAD, are calling on employers to speak out against discrimination and anti-LGBTQ+ legislation.

The good and the bad. There are some promising indicators, as highlighted in Deloitte’s new Global LGBT+ Inclusion at Work survey, which looked at how LGBT+ workers in 12 “geographies and territories” felt about inclusion and progress. Among its findings, 79% of employees surveyed said that LGBTQ+ inclusion is a priority for HR at their companies, and 73% felt that visible support of the community made workplace culture more inclusive. These efforts appear to have potentially had an impact, as 70% of LGBTQ+ employees said inclusion initiatives made them more likely to stay at a company.

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Despite positive indicators, both Deloitte and Glassdoor found that people who identify as LGBTQ+ still experienced discrimination at work: 42% of respondents to the Deloitte survey reported “experiencing noninclusive behaviors at work,” while less than half said that they were out to a “majority” of their colleagues. And according to a LinkedIn survey published in June, one in three LGBTQ+ workers “believe their company has not made them feel supported and heard” amid the wave of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, with 50% of professionals saying the legislation is having an impact on their mental health.

More than inclusion. In a June opinion piece for The Advocate, Joni Madison, interim president of the HRC, wrote that companies looking to create an inclusive workplace for LGBTQ+ people must go beyond the basic benefits or inclusion efforts they’ve offered. “Corporate social responsibility today is about going beyond HR plans and benefits. It’s about the business companies do and how their values carry through everything they do—from internal policies to products to politics.”

Rachel Orosz, director of learning and development at Bath & Body Works and co-leader of Evolve, its LGBTQ+ resource group, told HR Brew that speaking out against discrimination can show employees how a company lives its values. She referenced Ohio’s version of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, saying, “The introduction of the bill, for us, is very serious. It doesn’t align with our values. We make a public stance that we support diversity and inclusion, and that bill is inconsistent with supporting communities—not just LGBTQIA communities but also Black communities, all kinds of communities that further marginalize them. And we have to say, ‘Hey, man, this isn’t okay.’”—KP

Do you work in HR or have information about your HR department we should know? Email [email protected] or DM @Kris10Parisi on Twitter. For completely confidential conversations, ask Kristen for her number on Signal.

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