Moving towards an LGBT-open workplace
Though the struggle for gay rights continues, there is now a greater acceptance of the LGBT community in US companies– such that having an LGBT-open workplace is now becoming the norm.
This can be seen in a growing number of US companies that are openly acknowledging their lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender employees.
Companies that aim for an LGBT-open workplace
Essential here is that the question of being gay isn’t taboo in the workplace anymore.
The human resources departments of companies like Facebook, Deutsche Bank AG, IBM Corp., JPMorgan Chase & Co., and AT&T are all asking for the first time this year if their employees like to disclose their gender identity.
For former Ford Motor Co. Chief Financial Officer Allan Gilmour, who came out as gay in the ’90s after twice being passed over for chief executive officer, it’s a pleasant surprise as far as employers are concerned.
“I never would have guessed 20 years ago that questions of this kind would be asked,” he says. Back then, the rule was “this is nobody’s business except mine,” Gilmour said.
Gary Gates, a retired demographer from the UCLA LA School, also said collecting data on LGBTs at the workplace isn’t “weird” now.
As of present, nearly half of the largest US businesses are trying to determine who among their employees are LGBT so that they could design better benefit plans and consider diversity-enhancing promotions.
On the road to an LGBT-open workplace
Though the US Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in June 2015, US companies were already trying to lessen the fear and stigma of being LGBT in the workplace.
In fact, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Corporate Equality Index– which rates companies on their treatment of LGBT employees– saw 252 companies score a perfect 100 in 2013.
When the advocacy group launched this index in 2002, only 13 companies had perfect scores.
HRC also provides companies with a road map on how to achieve equality. Additionally, over the last decade, consumers who care about LGBT rights have been using the HRC index to learn about companies supportive of LGBT-friendly policies.
The dream of an LGBT-open workplace
Tom Barefoot, a strategic planning manager and senior vice president at Wells Fargo & Co. in Charlotte, North Carolina, was one of the employees who encouraged the bank to adopt the self-identify policy in 2011.
“When I finally clicked that one field on my sexual orientation, it was just like time had stopped,” Barefoot said.
“I’m actually putting into our HR system that I’m gay? It felt really good,” he said.
Still, there are some hurdles. Right now, it’s still legal in 28 states to discriminate against anyone who isn’t heterosexual and questions like these could pose problems.
But the hope now is that having an LGBT-open workplace isn’t just a pipe dream anymore.