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Will LGBT Employees Leave for Remote Work?

Rangam Aug 2, 2023 3:57:54 AM
Office table: open laptop, black mug with heart-shaped LGBT flag, symbolizing care for returning LGBT employees

When Olivia Miller began interviewing for a position with a finance company, she was enthusiastic about what her prospective employer had to offer: the opportunity to lead a team as the senior vice-president (marketing) and a supportive work environment. The only problem was that the organization was headquartered in New York while Olivia stayed in Sacramento. However, with work from home (WFH) becoming the preferred norm during COVID-19 and afterwards, Olivia decided to take the offer. The 28-year-old professional says that she may not have accepted the job if it required relocating to New York. Olivia believes that WFH or remote work could be a game changer for people from the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community like herself as they don’t have to work under the prying eyes of nosey colleagues.

Olivia is probably among the lucky few. A May 2022 survey by SurveyMonkey reveals that transgender adults are 14 times more likely than their cisgender colleagues to conceal their gender often. They are also 10 times more likely to be intentionally marked with a wrong gender. The survey indicates that though there’s a lot of conversation around workplace inclusion, there’s also a significant disparity in wage rates between transgender/non-conforming adults and cisgenders.

According to SurveyMonkey, 86% transgender workers find it important that their employers have a gender inclusive hiring policy, while only 52% of cisgender employees hold the same view. Nearly 40% of transgender employees say that their employers aren’t doing enough to support the LGBT community, and that they are still judged for requesting facilities like gender neutral washrooms.

A recent LinkedIn survey of 2,001 LGBT professionals echoed similar sentiments. Nearly a quarter of them weren’t comfortable disclosing their LGBT identity in the workplace. More than 26% were worried that being open may cause their colleagues to treat them differently. Worse, 31% claimed to have faced gross discrimination and/or microaggressions at work.

These findings give rise to a very pertinent question: Will the transgender worker leave for remote work?

There’s no denying the fact that WFH or remote work allows transgender employees to have a better control over their surroundings and less pressure in presenting themselves in a particular way. Fewer office run-ins with strangers or coworkers mean fewer judgmental looks and comments. Virtual interaction, on the other hand, is more to-the-point and intentional since every minute counts. More than 50% of the participants in the LinkedIn survey wanted their companies to have clear policies to protect the rights of LGBT workers, both in a physical workplace and in a remote setting.

Business leaders have a big role to play by setting clear expectations of workplace interactions, whether virtual or in-person. Updating the code of conduct and being proactive to make the workplace LGBT-friendly will go a long way in making an organization truly inclusive.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a game changer on various fronts. It probably has had the biggest impact on how work is done. Workplaces are no longer confined to geographical boundaries. LGBT employees have already realized the advantages of working in a remote environment. While a mass transition to WFH may not be imminent, transgender workers will likely prefer to work remotely.

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