Half of LGBT Workers Stay Closeted, Unmoved by Diversity Efforts

(Bloomberg) -- A little more than half of LGBT workers say they’re comfortable being out at work, according to a study released today by the Human Rights Campaign. It’s roughly the same number as a decade ago, and it calls into question how well many big companies’ ubiquitous diversity initiatives are working.

In the survey of 1,615 workers both gay and straight, LGBT employees said they don’t come out because they’re afraid of being stereotyped, damaging relationships with co-workers or making people feel uncomfortable. Among the straight respondents, about half said there aren’t any openly gay employees employees where they work.

“While LGBTQ-inclusive corporate policies are becoming the norm, LGBTQ workers too often face a climate of bias in their workplace,” Deena Fidas, director of HRC’s Workplace Equality Program, said in a statement.

More than half of Fortune 500 firms now have executive responsible for improving diversity and inclusion, according to data reported by the Wall Street Journal. Still, more than half of LGBT workers say they occasionally hear jokes about lesbian or gay people at work, and one in five have been told they should dress more feminine or masculine.

About a quarter of LGBT workers said they’ve heard more negative comments in the past year, according to the survey. A third reported being depressed or unhappy.

At the same time, American attitudes have shifted steadily to support legal rights and protections for LGBT people. As recently as 2010, more Americans opposed gay marriage than supported it. The Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in 2015, and public opinion has shifted, with at least 62 percent in favor, according to a Pew Research poll last year.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.