The fight for LGBT employment rights has come a long way, thanks to support from the U.S. courts and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), among others. But we still have a ways to go before every company provides a diverse and welcoming workplace for all, regardless of gender identity and sexual orientation.
Here’s how to recognize those employers who provide fair treatment to LGBT (and all other minority) individuals, before you decide to submit a job application.
Check Out Their Public Brand.
Companies who are proud of their inclusive principles will let everyone know about it in mission and value statements, marketing campaigns, etc. Places to look include:
- Company website
- Company’s social media pages (e.g. LinkedIn, FaceBook)
- Trade publications and forums
- LGBT Chamber of Commerce websites
- Employer rating websites such as GlassDoor
- Job postings — should include mention of being an equal opportunity employer
Research Their Track Record.
How has this company acted in the recent past? Any incidents, lawsuits or protests over discrimination? Check for:
- General news stories
- Articles in trade journals
- Corporate Equality Index which ranks commitment to LGBT inclusion
Read Their Written Policies.
Ask the HR department for:
- Policy publications and company handbooks which spell out zero-tolerance policies for discrimination, harassment and retaliation
- Reasonable accommodation policy
- Information on diversity training for employees and supervisors
Analyze Current Employee Diversity.
This information may be more difficult to obtain, especially since published management and employee profiles don’t usually include their LGBT status. You may have to wait for the onsite interview to observe the degree of diversity in the workplace.
One caveat: bear in mind the area where the company is located. If the surrounding community is diverse, it’s more likely the employees will be, too — and thus may not accurately represent the company’s attitude to inclusiveness. Their hiring may look diverse because of who’s applying, not because that’s their preference.
Survey the Causes They Support.
Does the company contribute to LGBT-oriented charities and organizations? Do they march in the Gay Pride Parade?
Work Your Network.
Ask your LGBT friends for contacts with people in the same field, or even the same company you’re investigating. They’ll tell you what’s really going on behind the politically correct facade. They may also know of job openings that would be perfect for you.
If you need to grow your network, get in touch with local LGBT-serving organizations. And there’s always Meetup, which hosts professional LGBT networking opportunities.
Look for LGBT Benefits.
Knowing that a diverse team is more innovative, productive and profitable than a homogenous one, some companies go above and beyond what’s required by law to create the right mix of people in their workforce. Offerings may include:
- Employee resource group for LGBT individuals to reduce isolation, share advice and discuss issues they’re having with coworkers or supervisors
- Health insurance plan that includes transgender people
- Paid sick leave
- Paid family leave
- Paid paternity/paternity leave, including adoptive and other non-birth parents
- Reimbursement for fertility treatment
- Paid volunteer time or cash to give to the charity of the employee’s choice
- Retirement, savings and lending plans
- Student loan repayment program
- Services for coming out at work
- Professional development opportunities
- Single stall, gender-neutral restrooms
LGBT folks face discrimination in every aspect of their lives. But if their workplace is accepting and supportive, it can be a big help in righting all those other wrongs. Each of us deserves nothing less.