For LGBT+ individuals, revealing their true identity to co-workers, supervisors and clients comes with both risks and rewards. Your decision will depend on many factors — in both your own situation and the work environment — so there's no one right answer for everybody. However, as a LGBT-owned business, we'd like to share our insights and tips on making the process more successful.
Pros and Cons
Workers who feel free to be their authentic selves at work report that they feel happier and more engaged. And studies show that they are more productive, which should please employers.
On the other side of the coin, many LGBT+ people are still in the closet due to fears of damage to their careers and workplace relationships. In a Harvard Business Review survey, nearly half (46%) of American respondents said they are not out to everyone at work.
Assess Your Workplace Atmosphere
Get answers to these questions to help you decide whether it's a good idea to come out, or if the culture is just too hostile.
If You Decide to Come Out
Here again, you have options on making people aware of your gender identity. In most cases, keeping it casual and gradual will help everyone feel more comfortable. For example:
If you prefer a more formal or official approach, try:
You should let Human Resources know in any case, because you might have to report harassment or discrimination, or you may decide to transition during your employment (which would involve medical and employee related paperwork). Don't worry, they don't have the right to disseminate that information without your permission.
How to Request Use of Your Personal Pronoun
As our concepts of gender continue to evolve, so do our ways of referring to ourselves and others. Here are some polite ways to make your preference known.
If You Decide Not to Come Out
Even in the 21st century, many workplaces are not tolerant of gender inclusivity. Your sexual orientation could lead to loss of career opportunities, lower salaries, isolation from co-workers, harassment and other subtle or flagrant forms of discrimination. Take these steps to protect your privacy:
People who've done it say it's exhausting to maintain that charade, and definitely hurts their ability to function as part of the team. But if that's your situation, we wish you the best. And if you decide it's not worth it, go back and read the "How to Come Out" sections above.
You may be pleasantly surprised by how accepting people are. Or you may find it's time to move on to a more LGBT+ friendly company. Either way, living openly as your authentic self is a huge reward all by itself.