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LGBTQ+ workers are paid 16% less than their peers, study finds

They also continue to face discrimination in the workplace, even as advocates call for change.
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While “a record number of non-LGBTQ Americans support equal rights for the LGBTQ community,” according to a 2023 study from GLAAD, workers who identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community still face workplace discrimination and a wage gap, a new study has found.

The majority (63%) of the 2,000 LGBTQ+ workers surveyed by writing platform EduBirdie said they have been discriminated against in the workplace and 45% said they have been passed over for a promotion due to their identity.

These findings may, in part, explain why LGBTQ+ workers also face a pay gap, according to recent data from Glassdoor. The average salary for an LGBTQ+ worker on the site is $60,009—16% less than workers who are not part of that community. Transgender workers earn 23% less than average.

The Glassdoor report notes that a disproportionate number of LGBTQ+ workers are employed in the food service and nonprofit sectors, which traditionally offer lower paying jobs. This may account for some of the pay discrepancies. The industries with the biggest pay gaps are retail, telecommunications, and pharmaceutical.

Another potential explanation for the pay gap is that younger workers, who generally earn less due to their level of professional experience, are more likely to identify as LGBTQ+: 22% of workers aged 18–24 identify as LGBTQ+, while fewer than 10% of those aged 45–64 identify the same way.

Regardless, advocates have called on employers to do more to reduce discrimination and the pay gap.

“Conduct those pay audits, commit to real change, and invest in your LGBTQ+ employees,” Amy Spurling, founder and CEO of employee benefits platform Compt, told Newsweek. “We need to do more than lament these statistics; we must obliterate them. Closing pay gaps isn’t enough. People deserve workplaces where their value is recognized equally and unequivocally.”

Quick-to-read HR news & insights

From recruiting and retention to company culture and the latest in HR tech, HR Brew delivers up-to-date industry news and tips to help HR pros stay nimble in today’s fast-changing business environment.