In the last decade, we have seen an increase in the acceptance of LGBTQ groups. The public as a whole are becoming more accepting and workplaces are becoming more inclusive not just racially but also gender wise—one that is beyond your typical straight man or woman.
This is very significant considering we spend a third of our lives in the workplace. In the past, LGBTQ workers experienced discrimination from their employers regarding their private lives. All too often, it was only heterosexual workers with opposite sex partners who enjoyed receiving workplace benefits.
Furthermore, their competence at work were always mired by their employer’s perception of their sexual identity. The great news is that various initiatives are already being taken to address harassment of LGBTQ individuals in the workplace.
For example, in Europe, employment discrimination based on sexual orientation has been banned. All sexes including straight, gay, lesbian, and bisexual are covered by this law. We are now seeing efforts to include trans individuals as well.
In certain U.S. states, there are already laws that exist to protect LGBTQ groups against discrimination. Employers cannot deny employment based on race, color, religion, sex, disability, age, or ancestral origin. You may not be asked information regarding these matters since they are not relevant to the application process.
If an employer asks an applicant to fill out a consent form where they’ll have access to your medical, school, or criminal records, they have the right to deny access since this is actually against the law. In extreme cases, the potential employer cannot ask for job applicants to take an HIV test since this will only strengthen prejudicial fears against the condition.
Because of laws such as this, we are seeing equal access to employment, training, and the ability to join unions. When LGBTQ members are discriminated against, they have the right to be reinstated, receive back pay, or worker’s compensation.
In addition, there are more employers now that provide health benefits to employees who have same-sex partners. When you look at the top Fortune 100 companies, you will see that 85% of these companies offer equal health insurance benefits to LGBTQ employees and their domestic partners and spouses.
Fighting for LGBTQ worker rights doesn’t just benefit the individuals in this group. It benefits society as a whole. When employees are encouraged to be themselves at work, they spend less time investing their emotional energy worrying about being discriminated, and focus more towards actions that help the company as a whole.
As mentioned above, even the biggest, most successful companies recognize that promoting equal treatment in the workplace is good for business. And it’s not just big businesses that do this. Even small business owners state that they are willing to provide equal benefits to LGBTQ and their families.
There is still a long way to go since certain states in the U.S. have yet to create laws that protect LGBTQ members. It’s unfortunate considering that American opinion suggests otherwise with 92% of them believing that no person should be fired based on their sexual orientation or identity.
In the coming decade, we can expect to see more progress in workplace equality. It’s not just good for business, but it’s also the right thing to do.