New research finds self-education and inclusive benefits are key to being a better LGBTQ+ ally at work

New research from Glassdoor, the job and company insight platform, shows that just two in five (40%) LGBTQ+ workers in the UK feel comfortable expressing and celebrating their identity at work. As companies continue to face a hiring crisis, businesses should note that 39% of those who identify as LGBTQ+ would not look for a new job if they feel able to bring their whole self to work.

Furthermore, a lack of allyship is compounding the fear of being authentic at work. One in four (26%) non-LGBTQ+ identifying employees would not feel comfortable calling someone out for their negative views or actions towards the LGBTQ+ community in the workplace. The research also revealed that more than a fifth of non-LGBTQ+ employees (22%) do not feel educated enough or equipped with the proper knowledge and skills to be an ally in the workplace.

A third (36%) of LGBTQ+ identifying employees believe that positive communications and discussions around the LGBTQ+ community at work do not extend past Pride Month (June).

With this in mind, Glassdoor also analysed how employees and companies can better support LGBTQ+ employees in the workplace. The research found that the perceived effectiveness of allyship by non-LGBTQ+ identifying workers does not match the opinions of those from the LGBQT+ community.

The five most effective ways of showing allyship at work, according to LGBTQ+ identifying and non-identifying workers

  Methods of showing allyship Effective to LGBTQ+ employees: Effective to non-LGBTQ+ employees:
1. Educating yourself in your spare time about gender identity, sexuality and bias 68% 55%
2. Inviting people to speak and share their expertise 67% 54%
3. Discussing gender identity and sexuality in the workplace 65% 48%
4. Questioning people’s views or actions 64% 50%
5. Acknowledging your unconscious bias in conversations 62% 49%

LGBTQ+ identifying workers say the most effective way to show allyship at work is self-education about gender identity, sexuality and bias in your own spare time (68%).

The second most effective method is inviting people to speak and share their experiences (67%). One in ten non-identifying LGBTQ+ workers thought this method to be ineffective (9%).

Two-thirds of LGBTQ+ identifying employees (65%) said that discussing gender identity and sexuality in the workplace is a good way to be an ally at work.

LGBTQ+ workers believe small actions can have a significant impact

The research also highlighted that employees who identify as LGBTQ+ consider some methods of allyship to be much more effective than those who are not part of the community. While six in ten LGBTQ+ workers (60%) said putting pronouns on zoom or email signatures helped improve the workplace experience, just a third (34%) of those outside the LGBTQ+ community thought this action showed allyship.

This disparity also exists for using gender-neutral greetings (60% for LGBQT+ identifying workers versus 40% for non-identifying) and sharing messages of support on social media (59% versus 39%).

Failure to support LGBTQ+ employees will negatively impact hiring

Companies lacking clear, year-round diversity and inclusion policies could find hiring more difficult. Overall, one in five UK workers (20%) say they would not work at a company that does not address or support its LGBTQ+ employee population. This figure doubles to 39% amongst the LGBTQ+ community.

According to LGBTQ+ identifying employees, the best way that companies can address and support their needs is by introducing LGBTQ+ inclusive benefits (70%). Nearly two-fifths (37%) said it would be ‘very effective’. Benefits could include parental leave, transgender-inclusive healthcare, healthcare benefits for domestic partners, gender-affirming healthcare, fertility support and adoption leave.

Other ways to support LGBTQ+ employees include not assuming gender or sexuality in everyday conversations (67%), LGBTQ+ competency training to teach allyship strategies and best practices around gender identity (65%), and LGBTQ+ resource groups to foster colleagues’ support (63%).

Those from outside the LGBTQ+ community considered every method of support to be less effective than those within the community.

Jacob Little, Senior Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and a member of Glassdoor’s PRIDE ERG said: “In today’s highly competitive job market, a diverse and inclusive workplace is not only a core expectation of top talent – it’s also a driver of innovation, performance and creativity. Glassdoor’s research shows that employees who feel they can be authentic at work are less likely to look for another role. In addition, companies that foster genuine cultures of inclusion and belonging report better decision-making and lower attrition.

“There are many ways people can better support LGBTQ+ identifying colleagues at work, whether that’s taking the time to learn about the experiences of people different from them, discussing gender identity and sexuality in the workplace, creating space for people to talk about their lived experiences, or signals as simple as sharing pronouns on Zoom and email signatures. Even the smallest of actions can have a meaningful impact on the workplace experience of underrepresented groups.”

To help people better understand the current state of diversity, equity and inclusion at a company, Glassdoor has two features to help job seekers and employees: A Diversity & Inclusion Rating and Diversity FAQ’s by company. These features help employees share how satisfied they are with their company’s DEI practice as well as list the most popular questions job seekers ask about companies.