According to a 2020 BCG poll, seventy-five percent of LGBTQ+ workers reported experiencing prejudice in the workplace, compared to only forty-three percent of heterosexual employees. This equates to a staggering 1.7-fold increase in the likelihood of discrimination against LGBTQ+ employees. The consequences of such discrimination can be dire, ranging from loss of employment to an increase in psychological distress.
The LGBTQ+ community has a long history of making critical contributions to the growth of the Information Technology industry, despite the challenges they have faced. There is a sizable roster of notable figures in the IT world who have raised awareness of the LGBTQ+ community through their accomplishments, such as Works, Tim Cook, Leanne Pittsford, Peter Arvai, Hayley Sudbury, Jon Hall, and Megan Smith.
Many of the most notable members of the LGBTQ+ community courageously declared their sexual orientation publicly in order to demonstrate to those who are growing up in the movement that it is possible to do so. They were aware that they may face challenges as a result of their decision, but were determined to make their community more welcoming and less hazardous for all.
Businesses in the IT sector are increasingly demonstrating their support for the LGBTQ+ community through a variety of initiatives. Major technology companies such as Apple, Microsoft, and Adobe have established dedicated LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) and have issued public statements expressing their commitment to these ERGs and the LGBTQ+ community. These companies are leading the way in showing their support for this important cause.
The Works and the Works Community strive to create a safe and welcoming environment where everyone can learn, grow, and express themselves freely. We recognise the importance of LGBTQ+ visibility and acceptance in creating a space where members of this community can flourish and progress professionally.
Works will be hosting its annual June signature event, #PrideAtWorks, to benefit the LGBTQ+ community and the organisation itself. Developers will be able to gain from this two-day, virtual, interactive event as they make connections with people of similar interests. We invite you to spend a few moments familiarising yourself with the upcoming free event for this next weekend, June 21st and 22nd, 2022.
In recent years, the debate surrounding digital businesses has evolved to encompass a greater emphasis on diversity, equality, accessibility, and other topics. This shift has created an environment that is conducive to the implementation of initiatives such as Works and other organisations. To illustrate this changing landscape, the following are some of the ways in which the market has evolved.
Trend toward more diversity hiring at IT firms
In June 2020, the United States Supreme Court reached a landmark decision that was bolstered by an amicus brief, or a legal document expressing support, signed by more than two hundred prominent businesses. These organisations understand the potential of a more diverse workforce through an inclusive policy, and have consequently taken steps to demonstrate their support of the LGBTQ+ community, such as launching marketing campaigns, establishing employee resource groups, and revising their recruitment processes. This is a positive step forward in the pursuit of equality and acceptance.
Over the past two years, many Information Technology (IT) businesses have addressed their apprehensions by devising and firmly enforcing diversity and inclusion policies and closely observing any instances of mistreatment or discrimination against members of the LGBTQ+ community. Furthermore, a number of businesses have initiated LGBTQ+ support groups to further promote inclusion.
The incorporation of a proactive approach to diversity and inclusion of the LGBTQ+ population within an organisation can lead to a variety of positive effects, including increased job satisfaction, productivity, employee retention, and ultimately, increased bottom-line profits. By implementing a human resource policy that is founded on principles of diversity, equality, and inclusion, organisations can create a more inclusive and equitable workplace for all.
In terms of the IT industry, remote employment is a “game changer.”
The LGBTQ+ community has historically faced challenges in acceptance and tolerance, often resulting in members migrating to larger and more liberal cities since the 1960s. Members of this community have experienced difficulty in finding safety, community and employment in cities that are less tolerant and accepting. As a result, many members of the LGBTQ+ community have been forced to migrate to more welcoming urban centres in order to feel safe and accepted, as well as to find employment opportunities.
As the pandemic has shifted the global norm, many IT firms have responded by transitioning to either a completely remote or hybrid working strategy. This shift has presented two advantages for LGBTQ+ people in the IT industry. Firstly, remote working allows them to take part in meaningful work in a more inclusive workplace, regardless of the less welcoming environment they may live in. Secondly, they are not required to leave the community that has enabled them to thrive in order to continue their work.
Increased diversity and participation due to telecommuting
A recent poll conducted by LinkedIn in 2021 revealed that a quarter (24%) of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer/Questioning (LGBTQ+) individuals choose to conceal their identities in the workplace for fear of how their colleagues might react.
Many members of the LGBTQ+ community have reported feeling a sense of safety, autonomy, and freedom from external pressures to present themselves in a particular way after transitioning to remote work. This suggests that virtual working environments may provide a greater sense of comfort and security for those in the LGBTQ+ community.
The implementation of remote onboarding processes, email signatures, LinkedIn profiles, and other online profiles has enabled members of the LGBTQ+ community to openly identify themselves with nonbinary pronouns. To reduce the pressure of constantly having to disclose their pronouns, many people have adopted the approach of simply sharing what pronouns they use.
Due to the reduced amount of in-person contact when working remotely, members of the LGBTQ+ IT community are far less likely to experience prejudicial treatment based on their physical appearances.
Increasing visibility of the LGBTQ+ community as a result of telecommuting
Ford, et al. have argued in their study, How Remote Work Can Foster an Inclusive Environment for Transgender Developers, that working remotely provides members of underrepresented groups with greater autonomy in their choices regarding how they publicly disclose their identities and how they are portrayed.
Professionals in the LGBTQ+ community may find a sense of solidarity and understanding by using their preferred trans and nonbinary pronouns in their professional accounts on sites such as LinkedIn and GitHub. Doing so can help to ensure that individuals feel comfortable and accepted in their place of work, enabling them to make meaningful connections and progress in their chosen career. By authentically expressing themselves in the workplace, LGBTQ+ professionals can benefit from a more positive working environment.
Non-members of the LGBTQ+ community can become more informed and appreciative of the various sexual orientations that exist within the workplace and society by engaging in conversations with LGBTQ+ tech professionals. These conversations can help to create an open and sincere virtual environment in which LGBTQ+ professionals can openly share their experiences and views. In doing so, individuals can gain a better understanding of the complex issues that LGBTQ+ people face and the unique perspectives they bring to the workplace.
During the peak of the pandemic, many Information Technology businesses advocated for virtual dialogues and activities to further foster solidarity among the LGBTQ+ community in the workplace, when the necessity for individuals to express their identities was of paramount importance.
Older workers who have adult children who identify as LGBTQ+ have found great value in online forums and gatherings that provide an opportunity to discuss and share experiences. By taking part in these conversations, individuals can gain a better understanding of the various issues faced by the LGBTQ+ community and how best to support them. As a result, taking on the role of an ally can help to foster increased levels of understanding and empathy.
Accessibility in distant areas requires inclusive policymaking.
A recent survey conducted by Project Include, a research initiative by LinkedIn, has found that members of the LGBTQ+ community experienced an increase in cyberbullying during the COVID-19 pandemic despite the rise in the number of LGBTQ+ workers in remote workplaces.
Based on these findings, it is essential that strict and comprehensive regulations are put in place to ensure a safe and inclusive digital workplace for LGBTQ+ employees. LinkedIn’s research demonstrates that employees strongly feel there must be clear-cut protocols and procedures to protect them from cyberbullying and harassment.
The following chart illustrates how remote employment has contributed to an increase in sexually biassed harassment and cyberbullying against women.