When do people go out to work? This is what an investigation by the management consulting firm Boston Consulting Group (BCG), which is available to the Süddeutsche Zeitung, tries to find out. According to this, 70 percent of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees exit during the hiring process or during the first year of employment.
About 8,800 people from 19 countries, including 316 Germans, took part in the management consulting firm’s survey. The survey focused on members of the LGBTQ + community. About 61% of those questioned are part of it. The abbreviation LGBTQ + stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender and queer people; most symbolically includes any other sexual orientation.
The survey shows that the first year is a critical time for employees. While the majority go out in the first year, ten percent do so later in their job. 20% of the people questioned do not talk about their sexual orientation to their colleagues. “If employees don’t feel like the company is supporting them in the first year, then they usually don’t go out,” says Annika Zawadzki, partner and LGBTQ + expert at BCG.
72 percent of employees in Germany and Austria have come out among their colleagues. This is four percent lower than the average for the countries examined as a whole. About 45% of those surveyed said they listened to customers.
There are a number of things businesses can do to make members of the LGBTQ + community feel welcome.
Respondents who were not unmasked gave various reasons for not taking this step: they cited confidentiality and the lack of role models among staff as well as an unfriendly LGBTQ + corporate culture and fear of professional cuts.
19% of Germans surveyed perceived a professional disadvantage following their release. On the other hand, 32% of those surveyed see their coming out as an advantage. About half believe that their exit does not play any role in professional life.
In a country-by-country comparison, Germany ranks sixth with these results. The United States, Canada and Norway, among others, lead Germany in this ranking. There, fewer respondents said they felt disadvantaged because of their exit. Mexico has done the worst: 40% feel less well because of their exit.
According to René Mertens, spokesperson for the Lesbian and Gay Association (LSVD), it is especially young professionals who are reluctant to go out. “Young people go out less often. They worry about discrimination and about being less well in their job, ”explains Mertens. Members of the LGBTQ + community would often experience insults and marginalization at work and be at a disadvantage in terms of opportunities for advancement, according to Mertens.
In Germany, half of those polled said they had had discriminatory experiences. Trans people in particular often face discrimination. “The clothes or the way you speak are things that trans people are often discriminated against,” says Mertens.
But how can an employer create an LGBTQ + friendly work environment? “Already in job offers, it can be explicitly stated that members of the LGBTQ + community are welcome in the company,” explains René Mertens of the Lesbian and Gay Association. The authors of the BCG study suggest formulating clear guidelines against discrimination and providing contact persons. The establishment of LGBTQ + networks within the company is also important. Unisex toilets, non-sexist forms and in-house training could also contribute to a non-discriminatory environment in the company.