Post Pride month – LGBTQI+ voices: learnings from lived experiences

July 19 2021 by Roberto GCF

Post Pride month – LGBTQI+ voices: learnings from lived experiences.

Throughout June’s Pride month many countries around the world celebrated and pushed for LGBTQI+ rights – we wanted to share some learnings from lived experiences based on a McKinsey & Company LGBTQI+ workplace discrimination study*.  

This began with identifying the unique challenges facing the community’s employees:

  • Coming Out: foremost among them is coming out – the study identified that
    • this is especially challenging for junior employees
    • women are far less likely than men to be out
    • coming out is more difficult for people outside Europe and North America
    • people who are open about being LGBTQI+ often have to come out repeatedly
  • Discrimination: LGBTQI+ employees report substantial barriers to advancement: many believe that they have to outperform non-LGBTQI+ colleagues to gain recognition.  All discrimination may not be blatant but whether overt or unspoken, it remains limiting
  • Microagressions: For many LGBTQI+ employees, office life means navigation a series of microagreesions such as hearing disparaging remarks about themselves or people like them.  They are often misgendered and referred to by a pronoun which does not accord with their gender identity
  • Isolation: LGBTQI+ people are underrepresented in corporate environments; many report being an “only’ in their organisation or on their team.  This can fuel anxiety and isolation, which often results in other disadvantages

The study identified 6 keys changes to making the workplace friendlier for the LGBTQI+ employees

  1. Don’t stumble into microgressions: be careful to not make assumptions about people’s personal lives or risk misgendering them.  Ask for and then use the pronouns that each individual uses to self-identify
  1. Set a meaningful public example
    • refer to LGBTQI+ relationships the same way you refer to other relationships 
    • display visible symbols of support; encourage employees to do the same
    • sponsor LGBTQI+ events such as Pride; demonstrate your support visibly
  1. Educate teams: setting an example can decrease the frequency of microagressions, root out unconscious bias and promote respect towards LGBTQI+ colleagues
  1. Strengthen the recruitment pipeline: you need to work on hiring and promoting a diverse groups of individuals.  Blind résumé screening (removing names, gender signifiers and affinity-group affiliations) is good practise
  1. Sustain support networks: resource and ally groups for LGBTQI+ employees play an important  role, as do sponsors, be they LGBTQI+ or not: there is strength in numbers
  1. Strengthen your policies: it is critical to implement all the policies which have become standard at workplaces that promote comfortable and safe environments for LGBTQI+ employees

Business benefits

  1. Boosting recruitment and retaining talent: diversifying your recruiting team should be done thoughtfully: the goal is to deepen diversity and inclusion, not to make a show of your commitment
  1. Driving business: the study reveals that greater workplace inclusivity translates into business opportunities for companies
  1. Cultivating capabilities: a number of particularly strong skills among members of the LGBTQI+ community: sensitivity, empathy, the ability to deal with adversity – these need to be harnessed and encouraged

In conclusion we would like to reference Moizes Palma, chief risk officer of HSBC Argentina, an ally executive: “[..} it is not your sexual orientation or gender identity [which matter] but your character.  An inclusive environment can change the lives of our people – and how a company with a truly inclusive values can help both one person and the entire society”.

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  • with thanks to Peter Bailinson McKinsey Washington DC office, Wiliam Decherd Dallas office, Diana Ellsworth, Atlanta office and Maital Guttman, senior regional manager for diversity and inclusion Atlanta office.