What You Need to Know
- Only 7% of senior executives in an IBM survey identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual.
- Nearly half of LGBT individuals in the survey said their employer discriminates against people of their sexual orientation.
- Transgender people are particularly likely to say they've faced housing discrimination.
The LGBTQ community in the U.S. continues to face discrimination in employment and real estate, according to two new surveys.
Nearly half of lesbian, gay and bisexual Americans recently polled by the IBM Institute for Business Value said they believed that their employer discriminates against people of their sexual orientation.
Realtor.com said that a survey it conducted in collaboration with LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance revealed that LGBTQ discrimination in real estate remains a problem, members of the community are less likely to be homeowners and neighbors who are accepting are key to feeling welcome in a new place.
The IBM study study, conducted with Out & Equal Workplace Advocates and Workplace Pride, also found that discrimination is more pronounced where race, gender and sexual orientation intersect.
The study polled some 6,000 U.S.-based professionals, including 700 individuals, 73% of whom self-identified as gay or lesbian and 27% of whom self-identified as bisexual. Twenty-four percent of respondents identified as Black, 24% percent as Hispanic, 24% as white, 24% as Pan-Asian and 4% as Native American.
Across all surveyed racial identity groups, lesbian, gay and bisexual respondents see their sexual orientation as the primary driver of the discrimination they have personally experienced in the workplace.
IBM noted that a global study of chief executive officers the company conducted earlier this year showed just 17% of survey participants ranked diversity and inclusion among the most important organizational attributes for engaging employees.
“There is much more corporations can do to support LGBT+ people’s career aspirations and allow them to bring their full selves to work,” said Ella Slade, IBM global LGBT+ leader, said in a statement.
“Empathetic leadership and support for employees’ mental health with programs like Safe Spaces to Talk — which give employees in the LGBT+ community and others a safe place for sharing their experiences and gaining support – can help especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Deena Fidas, chief program and partnerships officer for Out & Equal, pointed to an authenticity gap. “Too many LGBT+ people can’t show up as their authentic selves at work without facing negative consequences,” Fidas said in the statement.
“Too many can’t express their true gender identity. We are shining a light on this problem and providing employers with a roadmap they can use to address it.”
The study found that 74% of Black lesbian, gay and bisexual women surveyed believe their identity group is less successful than the general population. By contrast, that figure dropped to just 4% among white men in the survey who did not identify as gay or bisexual.
In addition, although nearly half of white lesbian, gay and bisexual respondents said they have experienced some discrimination based on their sexual orientation, only 4% said they were discriminated against to a very great extent. For lesbian, gay and bisexual people of color, this figure was closer to 20%.
According to the study, LGBT+ people continue to be underrepresented on executive teams in the U.S. — only 7% of senior executives surveyed identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual.
Two-thirds of lesbian, gay and bisexual respondents reported that they do not feel equipped to overcome professional challenges, and a similar number said they have had to work harder to succeed because of aspects of their identity.
Although the pandemic’s massive shift to remote work and school affected many professionals with caregiver responsibilities, 43% of lesbian, gay and bisexual respondents said they have struggled to balance working from home with taking care of other family members amid the crisis, compared with 34% of non-lesbian, gay or bisexual respondents.
Realtor.com noted that Executive Order 13988, signed by President Joe Biden in January, aimed to prevent and combat discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation, but although a significant step forward, housing discrimination in the LGBTQ community continues to be an issue.